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Click on IT for rich crop

Monday, 30 December 2002, 08:00 Hrs
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HYDERABAD: IT could yield a rich crop for India in agriculture.

And that's where networking plan DACNET steps in. It is a plan of the department of agriculture and cooperation (DAC) to take e-governance to the directorates, related offices and field units.

Users of DACNET include a whole lot of agricultural institutions from across India. These include the Agricultural Marketing Information Network, the National Horticulture Board, and a whole lot of other official agencies.

It is located on the Internet at http://dacnet.nic.in.

And there are many more institutions and individuals working to link IT with agriculture.

One story that made news was attempts by the ITC Limited group to link farmers across the country with 'e-choupals', or computer-based networks that gives them information relevant to their agricultural operations.

"(Due to poor access to information) the farmer gets trapped into low risk-taking ability, low productivity, low margins and poor returns," argues S. Sivakumar, ITC Limited India chief executive of agri-business.

He says ITC's plan would create both "shareholder value and social good".

Some 1,400 village-level kiosks have already been set up, and more are being added at the rate of four to five per day across India, Sivakumar says.

The 7.5 billion ITC group model could give farmers access to the Internet to leverage transmission capabilities and access market data.

The company's target is eventually to have 50,000 choupals to cover 200,000 Indian villages, which means covering one-fifth of the country.

Expatriate Indian engineers and scientists are also giving a boost to such initiatives.

The Agricultural Gateway to India is a Web site managed by N. Sandhya Shenoy of Hyderabad in collaboration with the AIM (Agricultural Instruction Media) Lab of the University of Illinois.

There is also a directory of The Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), India, developed by the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), Hyderabad and maintained at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign.

Jharkhand has announced plans for hi-tech 'haats' that, they said, would push farmer uplift.

Each of these Net marketplaces is expected to have a computer centre connected to computers in other centres of the state through a wide area network. The goal: to help farmers sell their products at the best price directly to the buyers without going through a middleman.

Individuals have also been taking up the task. A.V. Narayanaswami, 42, a coffee planter from Wayanad, Kerala, has put together huge data that runs into over 150,000 Web pages.

Vikram Vyas of Jaipur has written a software called Jal-Chitra to predict water levels in drought-prone rural areas.
Source: IANS
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