Illiteracy and rural isolation can be huge challenges when it comes to helping farmers in India with solutions to their crop challenges. In 2010, recognizing cell phone adoption is quite high in rural areas and that cell phones would be an ideal platform for delivering information, Monsanto launched a free service known at the time as “Dr. DEKALB Farm Care” for corn growers. The service, now known as the Monsanto Farm AgVisory Service (MFAS), offers a toll-free number that farmers can call to speak directly with an advisor. Available 365 days a year, MFAS is a customized approach to providing useful information direct to farmers on a variety of topics that help them produce heartier crops and bigger harvests.
From seed selection to land preparation to weather forecasts and more, educated advisors provide useful insights on six crops (cotton, corn, hot pepper, tomato, cabbage and cauliflower), in seven languages to farmers in 16 Indian states. Push notifications also are sent out to registered growers who wish to receive customize messages on their cell phones throughout the season.
In the first year of the program, 10,000 farmers enrolled in the service. By 2013, the enrolled based has exceeded the 800,000 mark with more than 90 percent of farmers saying they are very satisfied with the service.
By all indications, the MFAS has been a powerful resource for Indian farmers. By helping to diagnose farmers’ problems and provide them with customized advisories, regardless of dialect, Monsanto has built on its promise to help improve lives and increase yields