Over 500 000 rural farmers in India can now access free daily market information and weather services on their cell phones with the help of Intuit Fasal platform, an SMS based mobile service.
Fasal begun as an experiment after it was recognized that rural farmers in Karnataka, India lack price information in relevant multiple markets; have issues with price transparency in markets; and also lack knowledge of potential buyers of their farm produce.
After a period of interaction between some company executives and the farmers in their rural setting, it was identified that the above challenges lead to information gaps that have a huge impact on the livelihood of the farmers and their families who often look at existing means of livelihood as one that does not provide sufficient returns.
The opportunity to provide a service where actionable information on price, potential buyer, weather, etc. would be invaluable to farming communities while also helping bridge the gap for large organizations to reach out with relevant offerings and advisory services in India was irresistible and therein was born Fasal.
Fasal has a single objective of helping farmers make more money or save more money! And this is being achieved through a business model that ensures that Fasal is a free for the farmer while companies providing household items to these rural communities, consumer durables, automotive equipments, agriculture implement and inputs, financial service, consumer goods, and other advertisers are rather charged for the service.
How it Works
Step One: A farmer calls toll free number in their respective local languages to register for Fasal. The farmer is then profiled by the staffs of Fasal based on information such as the commodity s/he grows, current crop season, land size under cultivation, etc. The farmer’s profile is then mapped to the markets that s/he visits to sell his or her produce.
Step Two: Based on this highly personalized information of each farmer, regular market and weather information are sent in their preferred local language at a time that it is most actionable. Additional relevant messaging is also sent on the basis of farmers’ profile such as use of irrigation facilities or ownership of farm equipments, etc.
Step Three: Using a complex and patented matching algorithms, Fasal service connects farmers to potential buyers/agents/institutions who would like to connect directly with farmers and make a purchase – creating an engaged and busy marketplace. The service using complex matching algorithms ensures that the multiple service messages reach the farmer every day, providing him/her data so that s/he can make informed decisions.
Even though the service is still at its infancy, its social and economic impact on the rural communities is being closely monitored, including the use of independent third-party research. According to Fasal, the vast majority of Fasal customers in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat found the service useful and it is helping them earn an average of 20% more with the service.