Some of the actionable research done by LIRNEasia, were highlighted at an event organized by the Bhutan Infocomm and Media Authority (BICMA), in Thimphu on 9 May 2011. One of the areas of research presented was Agriculture.
According to the World Bank, nearly half the labour force in Bhutan is engaged in Agriculture, however as in most South Asia countries, the sector’s contribution to GDP is less than proportional.
LIRNEasia’s research on agriculture has highlighted the importance of access to accurate, timely and actionable information improved the efficiency of the agriculture value chains. The presentation looked at the services available for delivering information to farmers in South Asia. Tradenet, based on an initiative by Govi Gnana Seva or Farmer Knowledge Service, in Sri Lanka, Reuters Market Light (RML) and Iffco Kisan Sanchar Limited (IKSL) in India were some of the services highlighted.
A similar service is available in Bhutan, done as a joint effort by the Ministry of Agriculture, Bhutan and SNV. The system uses an Interactive Voice Recording (IVR) system, as a way of counteracting the illiteracy among farmers. The system provides market price information to subscribers (or farmers) and is currently sourcing prices from three agriculture auction markets in Bhutan. It is hoped that the information on market price would help them get a better price for their produce.
The system implementers hope to expand the number of markets it sources the information from. As mentioned before the system currently only takes prices from the auction markets however, there are a number of agriculture markets scattered around Bhutan where the prices are set through negotiated traders between the buyers and sellers. If the current system is to be successfully expanded, then one of the key challenges would be the sourcing of the prices from the markets with the negotiated trades.
The system was launched in November 2009.
The slides used at the presentation can be downloaded from HERE