Agriculture growth through mobile phone

THE EXPLOSIVE developments taking place especially in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) have practically converted the concept of global village into a reality. The whole world is now reaping benefits of this phenomenon. According to a recently published report, mobile phones have emerged as a potential mean to effectively address productivity and sustainability challenges particularly in agriculture sector. This report focuses in four categories of solutions: increasing access and affordability of financial services tailored for agricultural purposes; delivering information relevant to farmers, such as agricultural techniques, commodity prices and weather forecasts, where traditional methods of communication are limited; optimising supply chain management across the sector, and enhancing the link between commodity exchanges, traders, buyers and sellers of agricultural produce. Several other studies also note that mobile phone-enabled solutions for food and agriculture could assist producers to access financial services, obtain agricultural information, improve data visibility for supply chain efficiency and enhance access to markets. Such studies prove that there is hardly any iota of doubt that the fast communication not only enhances awareness and production capacity but also reduces time as well as cost. The phenomena of mobile phone has excessively dominated the agriculture sector in the developed states where the farmers community always remains well informed about the farm commodities, crops and their diseases, etc. Obviously, that has led to a significant boost in their production capacity and income as well. In terms of mobile phone density, Pakistan is amongst the worlds top states with about 112 million mobile phone users in the total capacity of 180 million. Besides, the country is having modern ICT services at comparatively reasonably tariffs, but the lack of capacity to either disseminate or get information has always been a dilemma. There is a strong observation that despite all these sophisticated developments in ICTs, the required information is yet to reach the rural areas where over 95 per cent population is associated with agriculture. The yearly share of agriculture in Pakistans GDP is regularly on the decline as in 2000 its share to GDP was 25.1 per cent, in 2005 was 23.1 per cent and in 2011 witnessed its share at 21.2 per cent. There could be many other factors behind this decline but the lack of information has emerged as a potent reason behind this reduced share. It is important to disseminate information to farmers community but the more important is the ability on the farmers part to have skills to use the technologies effectively. Here lies the major responsibility with the government as well as the mobile phone service providers who need to come up with a comprehensive mechanism to ensure speedy and effective dissemination of relevant information to farmers according to the time and area as it significantly boost the production level.

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