India: The Impact of Mobile Phones (ICRIER Report)

Posted by rmlonline on Dec 13, 2010
India: The Impact of Mobile Phones (ICRIER Report) data sheet 2391 Views
Publication Date: 
Jan 2009
Publication Type: 
Journal article

Research carried out by International Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER). The ICRIER researchers looked at three segments of the population – the agriculture sector, the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector and urban slum dwellers. The research demonstrates that access to telecommunications is an important catalyst to realizing productivity and efficiency improvements and thereby making it possible for the benefits of economic growth. The research in this report on the uses and impacts of mobiles in agriculture show that improving productivity and rural incomes requires an array of enablers in the production cycle, which runs from planting to the final sale of produce; access to information is an important enabler.

The lack of adequate infrastructure is particularly acute in rural areas, home to 70% of India’s population and the 52% of the work force that is primarily engaged in agriculture and related activities. Agriculture in India accounts for 18% of national income, implying extremely low agricultural productivity. Until now, the focus of mobile operators’ attention has been on the more lucrative urban markets. The high cost of infrastructure rollout in less dense rural areas and affordability barriers for the rural population are likely reasons. But there are signs that this is changing. Infrastructure rollout in rural areas is now eligible for subsidy and all major providers have reported future plans for expansion in rural India.

Small farmers often struggle to access high-quality inputs such as advanced seed varieties, or services such as soil testing or credit, fertilizers, availability of loan options and efficient distribution networks and weather forecast. Therefore a very uneven access to information is seen currently. A national survey of farmers found that only 40% of farmer households accessed information about modern agricultural techniques and inputs while a lot of them still depend on other progressive farmers.