Mumbai, Oct 1: Union Minister of Agriculture, Sharad Pawar, today launched Reuters' unique mobile information service for Indian farmers.
Reuters Market Light (RML) has been designed to support India's 250-million-strong agricultural community and following a very successful pilot scheme is now being rolled-out across the country.
It offers Indian farmers up-to-date, local and customised commodity pricing information, news and weather updates.
The unique service has undergone successful trials since April 2007, and has already over 7,500 farmers who have signed-up for the service.
RML helps farmers to enhance their crop yields and improve their productivity over a very wide range of produce including onion, cotton, soybean, pulses, pomegranates and oranges.
Reuters will be developing Reuters Market Light, from an information service, to full mobile news, information and price facilitator.
Before RML farmers had very limited information on current and local market prices for their crops or timely information that would help them be guided on when to harvest their crop.
This hindered market efficiency, reduced yields, increased wastage and could severely impact upon a farmer's earnings and livelihood. Importantly, as well as helping farmers to get the best price, RML's accurate and timely information has the potential to reduce crop wastage, which across India runs into billions of dollars each year.
Given the success of the pilot scheme, Reuters is to launch RML on a full commercial basis and will now introduce a small customer charge of Rs.60 per month. RML will also now be rolled out across other rural areas in India, extending its offering beyond Maharashtra State.
Reuters will also soon be piloting another very exciting offering that extends the current RML information service to one that facilitates transactions by connecting farmers with various buyers and traders through their mobile phones.
"The farming community in India is one of the largest in the world, but despite its size it remains a relatively opaque market in which to operate. The rural and often remote nature of the community makes it incredibly difficult for farmers, especially those with small holdings, to get even the most basic information," said Managing Director of RML, Amit Mehra.
"RML provides crucial, local and customised agricultural information for Indian farmers via mobile phones, including crop prices, weather updates and other agric-related news. The aim is to facilitate greater transparency in the Indian agricultural markets allowing individual farmers to increase their productivity and maximise their revenue," he added.
"I am thrilled to support the progress of RML. This innovative information service for the Indian farmer reflects the best tradition of Reuters - promoting transparency and fairness in market operations around the world," said Tom Glocer, Reuters Chief Executive.
"The pilot programme was an unequivocal success and now, rolling out Reuters Market Light across India will signal a very important milestone in its adoption as a standard for the Indian agricultural industry," he added.