TWO MAJOR problems plague the agriculture sector: the first, lowering input costs, and the other, proper marketing. If these two are addressed then the farmers’ economic status will improve.“Though marketing fruits and vegetables at the right time become’s imperative to get a good price, the fact is many of our farmers are unaware of the daily market prices and often depend on middlemen, who easily exploit them. Many of these brokers often work on an established network and quote the same (low) price.Severe liability
“A small farmer who lacks information on the right price often sells the produce to the middlemen as storing his produce is simply not possible,” says Prof. E. Vadivel, Project officer, e- Extension Centre, Directorate of Extension Education, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore.To a small and marginal farmer, selling his produce at the earliestensures some cash flow in his hands for repaying his debts. This scenario persists in the country since independence.Daily information
“With a view to helping such farmers overcome this problem our University recently started the e-Extension centre, to provide information on the daily rates for different produces in the state to our farmers.“After careful study and extensive tours to different places we chose about 13 markets for implementing this scheme: Kochi (Kerala), Chennai, Coimbatore, Ottanchatram, Tiruchi, Hosur, Kumbakonam, Madurai, Mettupalayam, Panruti, Thalaivasal, Tirunelveli (all in Tamil Nadu) and Bangalore (Karnataka),” explains Prof Vadivel.
These major markets handle more than 100 tonnes of perishable produce on a daily basis, and influence the flow of perishable commodities mainly in the four southern States.Market committees
Further, the Market Committees functioning in each market are willing to provide information to the centre. About 13 market analysts (Agricultural and Allied sciences graduates) stayed near different markets and collected the daily market price from both wholesalers and retailers, compiled it and sent it to the University by 11 am every day.The rates are ready to be viewed by 1.00 pm by logging on to www.agritech.tnau.ac.in both English and Tamil.“In the initial period, the analyst’s spent a week’s time in the market to study its nature and functioning.
“Their daily visits encouraged a good rapport among the several dealers which helped us to get the right information,” explains Prof. Vadivel.But how many farmers use computers in villages?True, the use of internet by farmers is meagre. However the mobile phone network has expanded in leaps and bounds. Virtually every farmer has a mobile today.
Those with mobiles can easily access this information. Right now, about 3,000 farmers and 200 scientists are already using mobile-based SMS on commodity and market information.In addition market information data base, several farmers association are being linked to both farmers and field extension officials to understand the daily prices of important markets in south India.
Readers can contact Dr. E. Vadivel, Project officer, e- Extension Centre, Directorate of Extension Education, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore – 641 003, website: www.tnau.ac.in and www.agritech.tnau.ac.in, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 0422-6611383.