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Telesupport Experiment for Agricultural Information Management in West Bengal, India

Goswami, Rupak and Ghosh Roy, Jhumpa and Ghose, Jhulan (2010): Telesupport Experiment for Agricultural Information Management in West Bengal, India.

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Abstract

The article describes the experimentation of Change Initiatives, an Indian NGO of sub-regional scope, with the application of ICT in agricultural information management under the EUsponsored TeleSupport Project at Nadia district of West Bengal, India. During the piloting phase, an innovative mechanism of information management was experimented for facilitating a twoway interaction between expert and client system with the involvement of local community. To sustain this two-way communication system one fixed telecentre and two mobile telecentres were established in the project area. The web resources created for sustaining the project hosted a large number of good agricultural practices, inspired numerous interactions among the stakeholders and facilitated diffusion of several agro-technologies. Large number of organizations and experts also joined the network. Within the project period, a considerable number of villagers including rural women and youth could be reached regularly with relevant and need-based agricultural information. Information related to crop management, livestock management, marketing etc. were provided to the villagers timely. In spite of the initial success of the experimentation in terms of people’s participation and magnitude of information created and exchanged, the project could not achieve sustainability in the long run. Lack of e-readiness, lack of appropriate resource persons among the stakeholders, absence of any explicit incentive system within the organizational context, constraints of human resources and fund flow eluded the success of the project. Despite of its failure in achieving sustainability, the project has been successful in empowering local people, especially the Muslim women of the project area. The information management system experimented during the project may be tried in many rural communities of third world countries with necessary modifications.

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