Mobile Telephony for Agricultural Development of Sri Lanka
46 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2011
Date Written: December 23, 2011
As per GSM Association (GSMA), in every second another sixteen to seventeen mobile subscribers get added to the world’s mobile subscriber base. Out of that, most of the subscribers are from developing nations, mainly form Africa and Asia as other developed markets have almost reached the saturation level. Even within the developing countries the urban city centres have almost reached the saturation and real market growth is mainly driven by the rural penetration of mobile phone services.
Moving ahead at current pace world will hit the target of six billion mobile phone subscribers in year 2013, making the mobile phones probably the best communication medium in the world. Then most of the rural people, who are mainly involved in agricultural livelihoods, will possess their own mobile phone for the communication.
This paper presents the results of a study to identify the current role of mobile telephony in agricultural development with special reference to vegetable and fruit farmers who sell their produce to Dambulla dedicated economic centre which is the Sri Lankan’s largest wholesale agriculture market. It then analyses the gaps in the existing mobile telephony based agricultural services and potential ways and means of improving the same.
This study finds that 83% of the farmers had access to a mobile phone while 64% possessed their own phone. Despite their familiarity with the telephone, their level of awareness on various existing telephone based agrarian services was low. The percentage of farmers who had any particular level of knowledge on 1920 (toll-free agrarian advisory service), 1919 (government information service) and GovSMS (market price info dissemination service) were 31.2%, 9.7% and 3.2% respectively. Even though poor communication, quality of service, etc. have negatively impacted the level of success of existing telephone based services, it is argued that farmers’ willingness to pay for such services could assist telecom operators to come up with services which are commercially viable.
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