Mobile technology to empower marginalized mountain farmers launched - New SMS service provides farmers in remote part of Kailash Sacred Landscape direct access to market, weather, and agro information

11 Aug 2014, Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand, India and Kathmandu, Nepal


On 8 August 2014, an SMS service was launched in remote Pithoragarh District, Uttarakhand, India that will provide farmers direct access to weather information, market rates of farm products, agriculture advisories, and general news. The SMS service was launched by HC Semwal, District Magistrate of Pithoragarh, at a ceremony in the headquarters of the remote district bordering China and Nepal. The services are being extended by
Reuters Market Light Information Services Pvt. Ltd. (RML-ISPL)
India, together with the
Central Himalayan Environment Association (CHEA)
in India and the
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)

"The launch of the RML service will improve the linkages between farmers and markets", said HC Semwal, District Magistrate. "This will help ensure farmers get the best price for their goods", he added.

Under the first phase, 250 farmers in Uttarakhand producing ‘chyura’, a high-value product, will be provided access to the SMS service. The service will deliver personalized weather, market, and agricultural information directly to the farmers’ mobile phones, which will help them make informed decisions about their production as well as to plan more effective marketing strategies.

“This launch is a defining moment for marginalized communities in the Kailash Sacred Landscape in India, who can now use interactive communication media and information to improve their lives and livelihoods while the conservation of this sacred landscape is promoted”, said Dr Rajan Kotru, Regional Programme Manager, Transboundary Landscapes at ICIMOD. 

Mr. HC Semwal, District Magistrate of the Pithorgarh District launches the new SMS service for farmers
Photo: P.S Nagarkoti

The service was launched through partnerships under the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KSLCDI) of ICIMOD. The SMS service will support the project’s aim to provide solutions for innovative livelihood options and adaptations in pilot sites in Uttarakhand. CHEA is the lead partner for this component of the initiative in Uttarakhand. 

The agreement between RML, ICIMOD, and CHEA is for a period of three years, during which the service will be extended to a wider number of users. The service is expected to provide extended information services to communities in Uttarakhand, including providing them with tools to enhance the value chains of chyura honey and other products such as kidney beans, off-season vegetables, and bamboo handicrafts. The partnership will help enhance the livelihoods of marginalized mountain communities residing in far-flung areas where access to market information and agro-advisories are still limited. 

Based on learning during the initial phase, the RML service could be tailored to deliver other packages of information to different consumers on local heritage sites, responsible tourism, and conservation and development. The impact of the service will be regularly measured to gauge how it leads to improvements in the conservation and sustainable development of the Kailash Sacred Landscape.

For more information please contact: 

Ms Nira Gurung
Senior Communications Officer, ICIMOD
Tel +977-1-5003222 Fax +977-1-5003277