Technology has not only improved the living standards of those living in the big cities, but it has also touched the lives of farmers living in remote villages — through a toll free Kisan Call Centre.
Farmers just have to dial 1551 with their queries and someone like Mukesh Kumar Sharma, a supervisor at the Pitampura operations centre of Caretel, which runs the Kisan Call Centres on 1551, would put their worries to rest. Moreover, to the farmers' delight, Sharma — though an M.Sc, in Agri business — speaks fluent Haryanvi as he hails from a family of farmers in Faridabad.
A typical day at the call centre for Sharma and his colleagues begins at 6 a.m. It could be Anil Kumar, a farmer from Satyavaad who wants to know how to treat the yellowing leaves on his cotton crop, or Jind who is worried that his cow unable to carry a calf to term, or yet another who wants to know how he can get a kisan credit card or a group of women farmers who want to know if there are any new loan schemes for them.
And the day goes on till 10 pm, as agricultural scientists attend to farmers' calls answering in regional dialects to put callers at ease. Interestingly, a substantial number of calls — almost half in fact — are from women. There are also numerous calls from city dwellers who want to know about kitchen gardens.
Each call to 1551 is initially treated as level one and attended by agricultural scientists with specialisations in soil science, horticulture (for fruit and flower queries), agronomy (food grain, cereals and other crops), veterinary science or agri-business (financial and marketing queries).
In the event that a query cannot be answered by the scientists present in the call centre, the call escalates to level two. A conference call is immediately initiated to scientists at the Hissar Agricultural University, at Pusa or sometimes to specialists in Chandigarh for resolution.