Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fazilka Shinning - First Agri Based Call Centre of North India in Fazilka

Farmers call for problem solving

Anilesh S Mahajan TNN :
Fazilka/Chandigarh: Call centres are definitely proving a boon for farmers in far off villages where technology and its advantages may otherwise never reach them. In a similar effort started six months back, though a far cry from swanky settings but nonetheless effective, NRIturned-farmer Vikram Ahuja caters to needs of the farming community from his dusty office on the outskirts of Fazilka in Ferozpur district. Farmers from around this town and neighbouring areas of Rajasthan call on 9915184000 and are attended to by five people employed at the call centre running from the first floor of Ahuja’s Zamindara’s Farm Solutions. ‘‘It is high time we connect the laptop with agriculture for a good market,’’ says Ahuja. Equipped with five computers running on Pentium II and old-fashioned headphones, this centre has reportedly become very popular among farmers. Vikas Rai, a farmer of Nehal Khehra village near Abohar says, ‘‘I was suggested laser-levelling in my field and it has benefited me more than traditional levelling methods. And the solution was just a call away,’’ says a happy Rai. While word of mouth has familiarised farmers with this call centre, the local media has also played a positive role, says Ahuja. Apart from catering to individual farmers, this centre reportedly outsources its services to farm products producer group Haryali and it has also done a pilot project with Punjab Agro and Punjab agriculture department. ‘‘We guide farmers to opt for citrus farming, horticulture, cotton, wheat and use of agritools for special work. I got the database from US, Italy and other European countries. With the help of government machinery, I hope to help the local farming community,’’ says Ahuja. Starting with minimum infrastructure, Ahuja is glad to say, ‘‘We get calls from Ganganagar and Hanumangarh in Rajasthan. Most farmers have small problems and with better communication, call centres like ours will really benefit them.’’ It is a free of cost service, which Vikram has initiated for farmers of this backward and border area of Fazilka Abohar and neighbouring areas. In my various trips to abroad I have seen that technology is giving a big boost to various fields, then why not in farming, saidVikram. “ It is quick, fast and free of cost for farmers. I am focusing on reducing input costs of farmer, I advice them to rent tools rather than buying them, and use a technique, which is best suited.’’

Times of India, Chandigarh Edition, 18th October, 2007

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