Empowering rural India, Thomson Reuters has been updating over one lakh farmers in the country with the latest market trends, weather forecast, and crop information via its SMS-based service. The agency shared its success story at a seminar on Rural Telecom, organised by the Rural Marketing Association of India in the Capital on July 3, 2009.
Speaking at the seminar, Amit Mehra, MD, Reuters Market Light, shared the progress of the mobile service called Reuters Market Light that was introduced in October 2007.
RML, as the service is now commonly known as, provides information to the rural workforce, comprising farmers, middlemen and traders, on their mobile phones in three states – Maharashtra, Punjab and Haryana.
With an objective to empower farmers and help them enhance crop yields, the service is available in four content sets – market prices, agricultural advisory news, crop information, and weather forecast. Multiple SMSes carrying latest information and advisory updates are sent out to subscribers to this service. The subscription can be bought for a period of three, six or 12 months at a price of Rs 60 per month. The content is available in local languages such as Marathi and Punjabi.
Speaking on the initiative, Mehra said, “The rural community in India is witnessing a rapid rise of mobile penetration, which is accessible and affordable. And such professional services driven by top class editorial content are being rapidly embraced by the rural consumer.”
According to Mehra, at present there were over one lakh farmers across the three states reaping twin benefits of high crop yield and money. On average, each farmer was using the subscription for at least six months, he further claimed. Thomson Reuters now plans to extend this mobile service to nine more states.
Meanwhile, commenting on the rural mobile scenario, Raj Kumar Jha, National Creative Director, Ogilvy Action, had a different opinion. He said, “The rural consumer is a very valued-based customer. He is looking for money and value and needs to be emotionally connected with the brand. Everybody is singing the success story about their connectivity and things like that. But we still do not know what a girl in a distant village in Lucknow is doing with her cell phone, whether she is accessing it for music, jokes or general news. Are things like market rates really important to farmers, who had been managing their business without these services all these years. There is a need to explore more about such customers.”
The presentation on RML was part of the afternoon session at the seminar on Rural Telecom. The afternoon session also had another presentation by Suneel Bandhu, Head of Rural Business at Tata Teleservices on penetration of mobile-based content in rural areas.
The concluding segment of the seminar comprised a panel discussion involving three panelists – Vivek Bali, Group President - Global Marketing & Branding, Spice Group; RN Padukone, Principal General Manager - Corporate Planning and Monitoring, BSNL; and Mahesh Uppal, Director, Telecommunications and Computer Information Systems. The session was moderated by Pradeep Kashyap, VP, Rural Marketing Association of India.
The Rural Telecom seminar was organised by the Rural Marketing Association of India. Ericsson was the main sponsor of the event, while media partners were Business Line, exchange4media.com, Pitch and impact.