Farmers, too, reap the rewards of e-comm
Girish Kuber
IF YOU thought cyberspace could only be accessed by netizens in the metros, try visiting towns like Warana and Baramati in rural Maharashtra. For networking, e-commerce are buzz words in these dusty villages too.
A silent revolution in information technology is rapidly sweeping across the agro rich areas of Maharashtra. In Warana, in Kolhapur district, some 70 villages have been wired, not just to each other, but to the entire world.
Due to this, co-operative dairies in these areas have already started selling their products on-line. Several milk collection centres have been converted into cyber-cafes. Farmers don’t go to sugar factories anymore and the Warana Group has already opened an office in Europe for direct marketing of Warana products.
The next step is e-governance. “The collector’s office there should be in a position to provide all available information on the internet. Farmers can even download documents relevant to him,” said an official looking after the IT portfolio in the state secretariat.
The Warana co-operative sugar factory is the main driver of this effort. A technical institute named after founder chairman of the Warana group, the late Tatyasaheb Kore, is the key hub of activity. The Warana wired village project, assisted by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), is responsible for connecting these villages.
Six IT centres, which are in the final stages of completion, are being developed at six villages in the vicinity. These IT centres will have a connectivity through V-SAT. According to an official, these centres can handle around 20,000 internet connections from those areas. And by any standards, “it’s not a small number”.
Another example of the IT’s widening web in rural areas is Baramati in Pune district where, darling of the IT world, Chandrababu Naidu inaugurated a mega IT institute for the rural population last week. The celebrity-packed gathering saw, for a change, no politics being discussed. Instead, everyone flaunted their knowledge of the e-world.
“We are embarking on a journey that will take us far into new and exciting frontiers, which will open up for us glorious opportunities, about whose existence, we knew precious little till recently,” said Sharad Pawar at the inauguration.
According to Mr. Pawar, “We need another 100,000 software engineers by the year ’02 and unless we create adequate training facilities in the rural areas, bright youngsters from our villages and small towns will be deprived of these opportunities”. This IT centre plans to create an effective interface between the Info Industry and dairies, poultry, cotton spinning units and sugar industries.
Source : The Economic Times. February 21, 2000