Agricultural Policy, ICTS and Market Participation of Farmers in the Indian Himalayan Region
14 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2011
Date Written: December 23, 2011
India’s National Agricultural Policy lays emphasis on the use of IT for achieving rapid development of the sector. In line with this mandate, the Ministry of Agriculture is implementing a number of e-agriculture initiatives at the national and state levels. These schemes focus mainly on developing web based applications, data warehousing, strengthening IT infrastructure and making information more accessible to the farmers to facilitate decision making.
An underlying assumption behind policy statements is that the use of ICTs can solve the perennial problem of information deficit faced by farmers in India. Further, it has been argued that ICTs can significantly reduce costs incurred, enhance market participation and spur commercialization of agriculture. This, in turn, is likely to shift farm households from traditional self sufficiency goals towards profit and income oriented decision making.
This paper describes the use of ICTs (especially mobile phones) by marginal and small farmers as a factor of productivity and market availability. The study was conducted in the state of Uttarakhand, India. Four hill districts from the state were selected for the study. In-depth interviews were conducted with farmers from eight villages spread across these four districts. It was found that lack of policy interventions, nature of produce, role of the buyer and trust and social norms limits the advantage that can be derived from use of ICTs. In this context, farmers are not able to leverage ICTs for additional information and transform it into tangible benefits in the form of increased income or enhanced productivity.
Keywords: market, agriculture policy, information
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