The Direct2Farm (D2F) project, run by CABI, provides mobile information services to farmers in India. Two D2F initiatives in India that use voice-based systems to communicate with farmers, mKisan and IKSL, have now cumulatively reached over 4 million farmers. The use of mobile technology allows extension messages to reach isolated communities that have few means of accessing such information.
The IKSL agro-advisory service, a joint venture between the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd (IFFCO) and the mobile network operator, Airtel, along with Star Global Resources Limited, a rural telephony company, provides free recorded voice messages on agricultural topics. There is also an Agri Helpline, which farmers can call to speak to agri-experts. The mKisan service provides an interactive helpline, which allows farmers to listen to audio recordings giving guidance on managing livestock, crop pests and diseases, and nutrition. There are also pest alerts, weather forecasts and market price information available. Mobile videos, provided by Digital Green, give a visual demonstration of locally relevant farming techniques. By giving information via a voice and/or video service, literacy barriers are overcome and large groups of remote farmers can be reached.
As of December 2013, the mKisan project has acquired 1,571,116 subscribers and IKSL has reached 2,735,332 farmer subscriptions. CABI’s role in these services is to provide the scientific expertise and high quality content management and development that ensures that the information given to farmers is relevant and reliable.
D2F is funded by the CABI Development Fund and DFID. mKisan is funded through the mFarmer grant of the GSMA Foundation, under its mAgri programme which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID.