India is one of the world’s largest food producers with more than 200 million people currently estimated to work in agriculture, around 100 million of them farmers and the remainder working as agricultural labourers. In India, around 62% of farmers own less than one hectare of land, significantly increasing their exposure to the effects of crop failure, pests, disease and volatile market pricing.
Vodafone and Accenture Strategy have identified six mobile services with the potential to transform Indian farmers’ lives and livelihoods. Agricultural information services providing early warning of weather events, information on the best times to harvest and advice on crop techniques to enhance yields. These services could increase an estimated 60 million Indian farmers’ annual incomes by an average of US$89 a year in 2020. Receipt services to provide greater transparency in daily commodity supply chains, allowing farmers to raise their incomes by improving efficiency and eliminating fraud. Payments and loans enabling farmers to access simple and secure financial products and services using mobile money payment systems such as Vodafone’s M-Pesa, launched in India in April 2013. Access to highly cost-effective micro-finance and quick and transparent electronic payment systems could provide an annual benefit of US$690 for some farmers in 2020, representing a 39% increase in their average farming income. Field audit enabling auditors monitoring quality, sustainability and certification requirements to move away from paper records and adopt instead electronic reporting via tablets and mobile data, greatly enhancing efficiency and potentially increasing annual average income by US$612 for some farmers. Local supply chain enabling small-scale producers to transact with local co-operatives through simple but robust information services and mobile money systems. These could boost some farmers’ annual incomes by US$271 in 2020; a 50% increase on current farming incomes. Smartphone-enabled services to provide deeper functionality and richer sources of information than is possible using basic SMS and voicemail services. While smartphone penetration is currently low in rural areas in emerging market economies, average device prices continue to fall year-on-year. Advanced and affordable mobile services could lead to an increase in average annual farming incomes of US$675 for more than four million farmers in 2020.