Date: January 20th, 2012 [Friday]
Location I: Manouli Village, Sonepat, Haryana, India
Location II: Kisan Call Centre, Rohtak, Haryana, India
A Report by Kamal Jeet Singh, Kisan Sanchar, SGK, Haryana
Kisan Sanchar is a Social Enterprise, promoted by Sristi Gyan Kendra, a Rohtak based NGO and currently being incubated by Digital Empowerment Foundation and Vodafone India Foundation. The seed grant of Rs. 4 Lakh was released during Nov 2011 to implement the approved plan for expansion of Kisan Sanchar to become Self Sustainable Social enterprise in the interest of farming community in India. Kisan Sanchar has established two functional units one at Rohtak and another at Panchkula for implementing the expansion activities. On Friday, 20th Jan, 2012 Mr. Osama Manzar, Founder & Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation and Ms. Laura Turkington, Head, Vodafone India Foundation and DEF team visited the village Manouli at Sonepat and interacted with one of the oldest group of farmers benefited by Kisan Sanchar Services. The visit was covered by a team of Film Makers sponsored by Public Service Broadcasting Trust through Ministry of External Affairs.
It was a very cold morning on Friday when the team reached Sonepat by 8’O Clock. The entire DEF-VIF & PSBT team was very warmly welcomed by Mr. Dinesh Chauhan a progressive farmer from village Manouli and accompanied by Mr. Arun Chauhan & Jaivart, Hazari Lal, Shekhar, Raj Singh, Pawan Kumar, Kuldeep Singh, Harpal Singh, Sharwan Singh, and Sukhvinder Singh, the farmers of Production Cluster developed by Kisan Sanchar.
Once the team settled down in Mr Dinesh Chauhan’s house Mr. Osama Manzar broke the ice and started briefing the objectives of the visit and answered the queries of farmers regarding Digital Empowerment Foundation and Vodafone India Foundation. Meanwhile Filmmaking crew led by Sh. Aamir Baker installed their equipment to cover the discussions between the visit team and the farmers. Mr. Kamal Jeet from Kisan Sanchar addressed to the team and briefed the purpose of visiting the Manouli cluster out of all clusters developed through Kisan Sanchar in Haryana. He further mentioned that the farmer group led by Mr. Dinesh Chauhan at Manouli is the oldest group being benefitted by Kisan Sanchar Services. SGK’s Interaction with Dinesh Chauhan and Mr. Arun Chauhan started during year 2009, when Sristi Gyan Kendra, a Rohtak based NGO launched free mobile advisory services in collaboration with KVK Kurukshetra. They came to know about services and expressed their interest in joining. The total beneficiaries under Mobile Messaging Service in Kharif season in the year of 2009 were around 4500 in Kaithal, Karnal and Kurukshetra districts. Only two farmers (Dinesh & Arun) were benefited by the services in Sonepat Dist. Later on, seeing the benefits a few other farmers from the same village and nearby villages expressed their interest in the services and joined. Kisan Sanchar team visited the Manouli village and organized interactive session with farmers. The Manouli farmers were ready to pay nominal fee to Kisan Sanchar team for availing Kisan Sanchar Services. A separate farmer group was created and later on it was converted into Grower Group and marketing linkages were explored. Eventually two grower groups evolved, one group kept its focus on production of certified seeds of wheat and second group kept its focus on growing vegetables. The seed production group was linked with the Haryana State Cooperative supplies and Marketing Federation Ltd for the buyback of certified seeds at premium rates. Now in Rabi 2011-12 the second season of Seed Production is in progress and group has 40 farmers.
The second group, indulged in producing vegetables, now has formed a Co-operative Producers-cum-Marketing Society named as ‘Manouli Gram Sampada’ – Fruits and Vegetables Producers and Marketing Society Ltd. There are 17 farmers have registered themselves under the vegetable production group and they are shifting collectively from conventional farming system to Precision Farming by adopting the Poly House Technology with support of State Horticulture Department under National horticulture Mission launched by Govt. of India. Mr. Dinesh Chauhan addressed to the group and shared the benefits of Kisan Sanchar Sewa which are as under:-
• Kisan Sanchar provides Actionable Authentic information timely and regularly.
• Kisan Sanchar has appointed one volunteer at Village Manouli for coordinating the activities and organizing the farmers into production cluster.
• Kisan Sanchar has linked these production clusters with potential buyers for buyback of Seeds and Vegetables.
• Kisan Sanchar has linked the farmers with various innovators & traditional knowledge holder, veterinary healers to solve the problems of agriculture and animal husbandry. This has resulted into lowering down of cost of production and use of chemical inputs like pesticide & drugs in agriculture and animal husbandry. An instance of recovery of an ill-cow by a traditional knowledge holder was also explained by Mr Hazari Lal.
• Kisan Sanchar has solved the queries for expansion of farming methods from conventional to precision farming. The initial information on Govt. Scheme of available subsidies on establishing Poly Houses in rural areas was received from Kisan Sanchar which has resulted into establishment of eight Mega Poly Houses in Village Manouli by the members of the production cluster developed by Kisan Sanchar.
The farmers desired to interact with Ms. Laura Tarkington, Head, Vodafone India foundation. Ms. Laura Turkington explained the objectives of Vodafone India foundation and shared her experience of working in India. This entire discussion and interaction was covered by film making crew of PSBT.
Considering the low temperature of 2 Degree Celsius and cold wave, the team decided to move to the fields of the member farmer of production cluster and then to the next location. First of all the team visited the field of sweet corn, then subsequently the fields of Dahlia, Brinjal and Strawberry were visited where production by low tunnel was demonstrated. A Mega poly house was being constructed on one acre land and farmers shared their experiences and difficulties in getting the loans sanctioned from commercial banks. Thereafter team decided to move to Rohtak for interacting with the call center team at Rohtak. The team was welcomed by Mr. Sumit Kaushik, coordinator, Kisan Call Center and Mr. Sharbendu Benerjee of CABI, one of the old partner of Kisan Sanchar since Year 2009. First of all, Mr. Sumit Kaushik briefed that how the idea – Kisan Call Center was emerged during a Contract Farming Project with Hafed and with the support of CABI & IKSL (Iffco Kisan Sanchar Ltd). The call center was started with initial support of IKSL in terms of giving 4 handsets of IFFCO-003 and free talk time. After completion of the Project in December 2009, IKSL stopped funding but did not take the IFCCO 003 handsets back. Farmers kept calling to help lines and Kisan Sanchar continued the call center activities. Dr.Sharbendu Benerjee, Business Development Manager of CABI informed the members that Kisan Sanchar worked on novel ideas like development of low cost model of Light Traps and evolving Call Center support for the member farmers under Contract Farming project.
Mr. Osama Manzar explained how Digital Empowerment Foundation is giving its mentorship support to Kisan Sanchar as a social enterprise. Mr. Sumit Kaushik, Call Center Coordinator, invited members to see the Call Center functioning. In the cabin of call center Mr. Sumit Kaushik highlighted the important points about technology adopted to keep the installation costs as low as possible. He mentioned that ‘Kisan Call Center’ is being designed to make outbound calls for taking feedback and to receive incoming calls for solving the problems of the farmers. After preliminary research it was found that a normal call center requires following vital components:
1. PRI Line
2. PRI Logger
4. Call Manager Software
5. Y Cables
6. High Quality Headsets
7. A Desktop computer.
8. Dialer software and hardware.
Call manager software enables people to manage the call traffic and divert the calls as per the availability of the free lines. This software provides complete MIS and recording of the calls made through different callers.
This call centre setup costs around Rs. 5-6 Lakh with an annual maintenance cost of Rs. 75,000 to 1 Lakh. Considering this impractical proposition for Kisan Sanchar it was collectively decided to make few process innovations in developing a low cost solution for establishing a rural call center. After a lot of research on various models of telephone sets available in the market the Tellular phone set of USA was selected which was available at Rs.1200 per piece having facility of taking six people on conference and its connectivity with logger installed in personal computer. 5 pieces of Tellular and 8 line logger was purchased from Delhi. The Y cables and high quality headsets were also purchased to keep the hands free of the tele-caller so that he/she can feed the data simultaneously while receiving the call. This design was developed with Rs.80,000/- only which was very much low cost as compare to the conventional call center. The only limitation of this call center set up is that each tellular has its own mobile number. The customer has to remember more than one mobile number for getting in touch with Kisan Call Center.
After the demonstration at call center entire team reached Om Restaurant, nearby Call Center and discussed the further plan of action. After lunch Mr. Osama Manzar, Laura, Chitra, Abner and Sharbendu proceeded for Delhi. The film making crew stayed at Rohtak and visited nearby villages in Kaithal and Jind districts and interviewed farmers and the staff of Krishi Vigyan Kendra.
We, at Kisan Sanchar hope to turnaround the project in the next one year.
Please let me know if there is any feedback. I am available at email@example.com.