the Internet to the villages and empowering rural India with information
at the click of a button is what best describes ITC's much acclaimed
initiative - e-Choupal.
unique web based initiative offers farmers of India all the information,
products and services they need to enhance farm productivity, improve
farm-gate price realisation and cut transaction costs. With the
e-Choupal farmers can access latest local and global information
on weather, scientific farming practices as well as market prices
at the village itself through this web portal - all in Hindi. It
also facilitates the supply of high quality farm inputs as well
as purchase of commodities at their doorstep.
Given the literacy and infrastructure constraints
at village level, this model is designed to provide physical service
support through a Choupal Sanchalak - himself a lead farmer - who
acts as the interface between computer terminal and the farmers.
Full contents of this site are therefore made available to the registered
In a presentation recently made on e-Choupal, ITC's
International Business Division head of research J Ravindra Kumar
showed how the e-Choupal initiative gave farmers the power of scale
and better bargaining power when it came to selling their produce
and buying agri-inputs.
Kumar further said that through real-time multicasting
ability of the Internet, it was now possible to delink information
from transaction and this in turn places the freedom
of choice in the hands of the farmer. Economic empowerment of the
farmers was what the e-Choupal aimed at. The e-Choupal also made
it possible for the farmers to bundle information, knowledge,
and transaction from independent participants in a collaborative
business model to deliver unique value to the farmer and the business
enterprises simultaneously. Thus, the heavy dependency on the traditional
institutional infrastructure was reduced.
IT can make a difference with regard to heterogeneity
was what Kumar emphasised. He said that the Internet provided low-cost
one-to-one interactive notwithstanding the fragmentation and geographical
At the end of the day what a farmer wants to achieve
is higher income through increased yields, improved quality and
reduced transaction costs, which is exactly what e-Choupals provided.
These e-Choupals provided the power of scale to the small farmers,
customised knowledge despite heterogeneity and real-time information
ITC's e-Choupal leverages IT to improve farmers
decision making ability to align farm output with market demands,
and to improve productivity and brings in best of breed partnerships.
The company targeted the bottom rung of the farmers first as the
company's vision was to cover the largest segment of rural India
thus spanning 100,000 villages across 15 states by building capability
to deliver superior shareholder value sustainably. ITC's only mandate
was that of Improving quality of life in rural India.
And that it did.