There is a resurgent interest in a second Green Revolution in India. See this for a nice overview.
I have been wondering if the idea of “horizontal information assemblage” can accelerate this process. With the increasing proliferation of cellphones and teledensity in general and with the possible wide spread adoption of telephony and broadband over cable in the near future, farmers in rural India would have unprecendented opportunities not only to consume information but also to produce,share and adapt information from elsewhere.
Why a horizontal information assemblage for farmers is needed?
Vertical Information Systems like e-Choupal are Generation 1 of what ICT can do to farmers. Disintermediating the middleman has done a lot of good to the farmer.
However this is not participatory in nature from a individual farmer’s knowledge perspective.
Tremendous local knowledge/expertise that can be leveraged and shared.
Eliminate barriers of distance and language – Key limitations for physical farming communities.
Bring the farmer to the center of the system that ICT enables – “Revenue Sharing for knowledge Sharing”.
Because agriculture is a “knowledge intensive” industry in many ways.
Quick dissemination of best practices farmer-farmer without a “information broker” in the middle will accelerate the journey towards the “Second Green Revolution”.
What would this horizontal assemblage look like?
This may include a wikipedia kind of a system(“Farmopedia” in local languages). But to begin with the ideal system would rely heavily on cell phones and possibly a smart integration of SMS and IVR technology(think a voice database for best practices in farming for instance).
There are a lot of loose ends to be tied to get this kind of a system up and running. While there are a host of political,policy,technology and logistics issues in a project of this scale , I thought we need to focus on our “sphere of influence”(borrowing this phrase from Stephen Covey). Having said that, can we explore how mobile technology, convergence etc., can accelerate the journey towards Green Revolution 2.0 by bringing the Indian farmer to the center of a participatory web?