The farmers of Meghalaya are now seen busy dialling a toll-free number – 1917.
The toll-free number has connected thousands of farmers of the hill State since December last year to a call centre based at Laitumkhrah area in Shillong.
As per a report published in The Indian Express on August 14, 2018, till date approximately 15,000 farmers of Meghalaya have been connected to the call centre which has been manned by 20 operators.
It has been reported that the farmers get busy calling at the toll free number to have answers for various of their queries. The operators of the call centre are, as per the report, ‘agriculture experts’ and they take call from 10 am to 5 pm from Monday to Saturday.
The report quoted Ninestar Shadap, a ginger and paddy farmer who lives in Palwi village under Ri Bhoi district, as saying, “For the first time in my life, I am directly speaking to customers outside of my little village.”
According to the report, there are 15,064 farmers registered under the Meghalaya Government’s 1917 Integrated Technology Enabled Agriculture Management System (iTEAMS), which was launched in December 2017.
The 1917 iTEAMS was launched with an aim to “connect farmers to markets”.
The report also quoted Sampath Kumar, an official in the State’s Agriculture Department, who initiated the system, as saying that the 1917 service has many ramifications and it can be a game-changer in the agriculture economy of Meghalaya.
Kumar compared the functioning of the 1917 model to that of popular e-commerce platforms.
The report further quoted Agriculture officer Kumar as saying, “This is like EBay or Amazon for farmers,” adding, “Like the UP100 (for state-wide safety in Uttar Pradesh) or 108 (for medical emergencies). Farmers, often located in the remote areas, require similar kind of assistance.”
The entire programme is centred around two ‘cloud-based’ call centres referred to as the Agricultural Response Centres – one of which is in Shillong and the other, a smaller one, is in Tura – connect about 15,000 farmers to a pool of over 150 buyers including startups, commercial ventures and independent customers. “The motive is to set the farmers free,” added Kumar.