Reuters Market Light

Posted by rmlonline on Dec 17, 2010

Reuters Market Light is changing the face of Rural India…


In a country where conditions are harsh and farm yields lessen amid mounting loans - thousands of farmers across several Indian states are now wearing smiles of relief.


The impossible has been made possible. Thomson Reuters is providing analogous services to farmers in rural India, where nearly 60 percent of the working population makes their living from agriculture; millions of farmers do not have timely and affordable access to relevant decision-critical information.


A farmer in India gets only 20-25% price of their final produce vis-a-vis 40-50% in the developed world. They suffer economic losses as a result of:


v  Lack of timely and reliable information on spot prices of their crops in different markets

v  Lack of timely and localized weather forecast

v  Lack of reliable, timely and relevant news that affect crop or input prices

v  Lack of timely information on government schemes or sources of finance

v  Lack of relevant, accurate and timely tips that help improve their productivity


Today, Reuters Market Light (RML) has grown from a one page idea, in 2006, to a pioneering business that operates in 13 states of India. To achieve that, numerous processes, prototypes & business model innovations have been accomplished. Some of the key innovations include:


ü  Product Innovation: Launch of the first ever information card (RML Direct) and delivery of the service via all handset models and on all service operators


ü  Process innovation: Sourcing process for news and market data has been continually improved from the widely fragmented market. The service also provides local news that helps the farmer save transportation costs or better plan their operations based on availability of power


ü  Business model innovation: RML has built its entire operating model from scratch – from content sourcing through to delivery and customer support. This industry sector - personalized professional information services for farmers – did not exist until RML launched the business in 2007. Many new companies (Nokia, Handygo, etc.) are trying to replicate the business which will only help take this service to millions of farmers thereby multiplying the empowerment as well as the financial benefit.


By Bringing Light through Intelligent Information…


Thomson Reuters created and implemented the first mobile phone based, highly personalized, professional information service, specially designed for the Indian farmer community. The Indian farming community now has access to - Reuters Market Light (RML) - a wide range of decision-critical content via mobile phones including crop advisory, weather forecasts, market rates, and commodity news.


RML was launched in the state of Maharashtra on October 1, 2007, by the union minister of agriculture of India, Mr. Sharad Pawar and in October 2008 in the state of Punjab by state’s chief minister, Mr. Prakash Singh Badal.


RML is a pioneering transformative service that brings transparency and fairness to an underserved world market. For the first time, the decision-critical content is delivered:

-       as per the individual preferences of crops, markets, and location of each farmer

-       in his local language

-       aligned tightly with his daily work schedule

-       in a mix of relevant local and international content

-       as per the stage of his individual crop cycle

-       in a highly simple user-experience for the farmer

-       across all handsets and telecom operators

-       and can be easily purchased over the counter in a variety of rural outlets


This has resulted in RML having an unprecedented financial and emotional impact on the farming community by helping them achieve better yields, secure better prices, and feel empowered vis-a-vis the strong middlemen community.  The information enables farmers to take informed decisions and reduces their production and marketing risk thereby directly enhancing their livelihood. RML has enjoyed unprecedented success and has sold subscriptions to over 250,000 farmers in over 15,000+ villages.  Through sharing, it is estimated to have been used by over a million farmers. Farmers have reaped significant return on their investment achieving up to INR 200,000 ($ 4000) of additional profits, and savings of nearly INR 400,000 ($8000) on a service costing only INR 250 ($5) for 3 months.


Creating a social impact with a multiplier effect…


The two biggest changes RML has brought about in society are

a)      Building a social innovation ecosystem, which fosters sustainable business practices, economic development, and corporate responsibility

b)      Empowerment of the farmer leading to direct financial benefit to their incomes.


The plan is to scale up the distribution in rural India through distribution partners across the existing and new states


Once the business model is established, we plan to take the business to other emerging economies wherever farmers suffer information asymmetry. This expansion is scheduled from mid 2011 onwards.


By 2012, it is expected that the service will have created over $2-3 billion in new wealth for farmers by providing transparency through information and connecting them more directly to the market.


Amit Mehra, Founder and Managing Director of Reuters Market Light, says early data show that most subscribers are making more money from their crops. “We’ve seen that a large majority of farmers have benefited and changed their behavior about when to sell or when to harvest or where to sell.”


Not only has RML changed millions of lives, but it also has the potential to become a model for economists and international agencies that have long proselytized for the use of technology — in particular, the mobile phone — to burnish economic growth in places like India.


[RML content is generated by a combination of in-depth internal and expert external information, which is managed by a highly adept and specialized content management team.]


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