Advances in telecommunication technologies and rapid uptake of cell phones by millions of growers provide excellent opportunities for delivering real-time information to growers in rural areas. Taking advantage of these developments, an international team led by Michigan State University (MSU) in partnership with the International Horticulture Innovation and Training Center (IHITC) in India, analyzed the cost-effectiveness of a cell phone-mediated, personalized advisory service for growers cultivating horticulture crops in poly-houses and shade-nets.
Through a public-private partnership, Tata Consultancy Services provide the team with technological support for implementation of the “Mobile-Agro-Advisory-System” (MAAS), which allows growers to send queries and receive real-time information and personalized advice through voice, text and photographic tools. The team implements this pilot-scale initiative using rigorous methods of impact evaluation. By assigning eligible farmers into treatment and comparison groups, the team measures project impacts, analyzes program costs-benefits, and explores program sustainability by assessing the demand and willingness to pay for MAAS services. Participatory and gender-inclusive training are integrated in the project. Lessons learned from this exploratory project guides the team in relation to possible expansion and scaling of the advisory system to other parts of India and South Asia.
- Poster presented at the Horticulture CRSP Spring 2011 Conference (PDF)
- How cell-phone based agro-advisory services work, PowerPoint slides with examples and illustrations (PDF)