Michigan State University
International Horticulture Innovation and Training Center, India; Tata Consultancy Services, India (India)
Sangita Ladha; Karim Maredia; Cholani Weebadde; Nanda Joshi; Rajesh Urkude
Recent 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, Michigan State University (MSU), in partnership with the International Horticulture Innovation and Training Center (IHITC) in India, proposes to explore and test the cost effectiveness of a cell-phone-mediated personalized advisory service for growers cultivating horticulture crops in poly-houses and shade-nets. Through public-private partnership, the Tata Consultancy Services will provide technological support for the implementation of the ”Mobile-Agro-Advisory-System” (MAAS), which will allow growers to send queries, and receive real-time information and personalized advice through voice, text and photographic tools. MSU and IHITC will design and implement this pilot-scale initiative using rigorous methods of impact evaluation. The methodology will consist of assigning eligible farmers into treatment and comparison groups so as to measure and attribute project impacts, analyze program costs-benefits, and explore program sustainability by assessing the demand and willingness to pay for MAAS services. Participatory and gender inclusive training will be integrated in the project. Lessons learned from this exploratory project will help MSU and IHITC to expand and scale up the program to other parts of India and South Asia.