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ICTs connecting people, touching lives

The Financial Times, Wednesday, November 21, 2012 ran an article entitled  -The Future of the Food Industry “Phones give farmers an edge when in  the field” which talks about how mobile phones can change the farming  industry.  Here is a summary-

With the launch of a mobile phone application by Quality Meat Scotland, a public sector body responsible for supporting and promoting the Scottish red meat industry, livestock farmers are no longer bound to stay in the office to get the latest news regarding market prices for lamb and beef in his computer. By using this QMS application, now they can get all market related news in their iphone even if they are in the field, taking care of their animals. According to a livestock farmer Robert McOuat, this application is simple and quick to use and it helps him to check the performances of different weight bands of lambs and make a judgment call about whether to sell more light, medium or heavy lambs. This application also helps the farmers to have the detailed information regarding the prices prevailing in all the markets, so that they can choose the market to sell their product easily. According to Stuart Ashworth, head of economic services at QMS, farmers need to work long hours in the remote farms, so a mobile phone is an essential part to keep them updated. Though a mobile application will not improve arable yields, but the information it can convey might help farmers to achieve that goal, says Lisa Challis, customer relations manager at Bayer Crop Science UK. She added, there were mobile versions of the Bayer product guide, Pest Spotter and Weed Spotter but mobilizing the information becomes the most popular and effective because it is instantly accessible. But in the developing world mobile phone may have biggest effect on farming and food production not through mobile apps but through simpler text based services like Nokia Life. For a fee of about US 1$, 60 rupees in India and 5 Yuan in china per month subscribers receive daily updates regarding crops, weather forecasts and market prices. K.K. Mithai, a retired engineer who grows pineapple, banana, and vegetables in Kerala, considers this as an agricultural input cost as he has noticed improvement in his farm output by using this service. It has been noticed that farmers are getting benefitted by this service as there is simply less guesswork and informed decision making.

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