The Telegraph
Friday , November 16 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Online portal gift for farmers, you & me
- Launched by chief minister, good idea with glitches

Ranchi, Nov. 15: It is a Foundation Day gift that links farmers to the information superhighway.

In the first attempt of its kind, department of agriculture and cane development today launched a unique portal to help farmers across 32,000 villages of Jharkhand, policymakers and consumers learn and share best agricultural practices and prices with Internet users anywhere.

Chief minister Arjun Munda, who launched the portal during the inaugural session of the three-day youth and skill development fair-cum-exhibition on the sidelines of the Morabadi state government event, said it was “an idea whose time had come”.

“It’s a unique portal due for a long time. I wanted the department to come up with something of this sort whereby a user can get all agri-related information at the click of a button,” Munda, browsing through the contents of the portal, said.

For farmers and buyers, the most vital feature would be the e-citizen link, which has the facility to compare market prices of vegetables, grains, manure, fertilisers and others across mandis of Jharkhand and other states.

Commodities, which appear in an alphabetical drop-down list, start from ajwain and ends with yam, indexing everything from chickpea to he bull to squash. Indian states are arranged alphabetically. On clicking one, the user activates the sub-link of different markets. For instance, Jharkhand has markets Garhwa, Gumla, Simdega and Pakur.

The link ‘resources’ also has potential. It has sub-links like weather information and soil maps.

However, the portal is going through its usual teething troubles. It is very slow and not yet bilingual. Spelling mistakes are common — Bokaro is spelt as “Bakaro”, frequently becomes “frequentsly”. Most important, submitting requests for price index or comparisons yields server error messages.

But State Agricultural Management & Extension Training Institute (Sameti) director Jata Shankar Choudhary said these problems would be ironed out soon.

“One more website of Sameti will be launched on November 17. This and the new one will be integrated to activate all features,” he said. “The portal will be the virtual hub of agricultural activities for anyone — a villager in Jharkhand to an NRI in any corner of the world,” he added.

He also stressed that the portal would be farmer-friendly.

“Think of anything and you will get it here. From the farmers’ point of view, they can know the nature of soil in their respective area, what kind of crops to cultivate according to season, success stories, details about government policies, resource persons in their region and at the state level, among others,” said Choudhary.

Going beyond this, he added it would be useful for buyers and urban consumers.

“A householder often wants to know and compare current market rates of common agricultural products he buys regularly. This portal will offer rates in his specific area of the state as well as information on others. Transparency helps curb black marketing or wholesale hoarding to a large extent,” he added.

He also stressed on the other factors — creating debate, directly sending grievances to the chief minister, agriculture minister or secretary, providing suggestions, accessing agricultural universities, tender procedures, status of schemes — that the portal offered.