Much of India’s rural population lives on the wrong side of a digital divide. Farmers and villagers lack access to information and IT services, preventing the development of an efficient distribution system for their products and services. As a result, villagers and farmers must rely on local middle-men to connect them, an avenue that often siphons away much of their earnings.
The Centennial Grant-funded project, Smart Rural Aggregation Platform (SRAP), will transform rural villages of India into smarter villages that are instrumented, interconnected and intelligent. IBM volunteers will build a technology platform and help develop a sustainable business model in collaboration with the Drishtee Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that is focused on rural development and working with marginalized rural communities to generate economic advantages and livelihood opportunities in villages in India.
A smarter supply chain brings better rural living
During the first phase of SRAP, the project will focus on developing agriculture advisory and extension services to assess rural needs and find solutions to increase farmers' income, as well as increasing wages and self-employment. The second phase of the project will build on the first, setting up supply chains, e-governance services, a rural help line, microfinancing and other services – working to bring India’s villages up to the technological speed of its cities, and to improve the standard of living and prosperity in rural areas.
Drishtee Foundation will create a network of rural entrepreneurs to connect farmers to each other and to the market, and to support rural youth and villagers by providing vocational training. A rural entrepreneur near each village will have an Internet-connected computer station, and will record the demographic and service data of each villager and farmer. Using SRAP, Drishtee will instrument and streamline the supply chain between farmers and suppliers of fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation and other services and goods, aggregating orders to reduce costs for farmers and increase productivity.
In this project, agriculture and employability are the main focus models for future solutions for other aspects of rural life. The end goal of SRAP is a replicable, scalable model that partner agencies can use to implement the smarter village principles to all services for villagers.
The concept of SRAP evolved after extensive field work in rural India under the leadership of IBM employee Jeby Cherian. IBMers Naveen Prathapaneni and Niranjan Pandey, who are driving this project, envision SRAP as an opportunity to give back to India's rural community
Naveen is passionate about giving back to the village community where he was raised. “An important value proposition of the project lies in IBM’s ability to provide a scalable and sustainable solution to the community,” he says. “The long-term impact of this project will trigger rural transformation in India and will support economic and social uplift of the village communities across the country, as it is aimed to scale the smarter village model across the nation.”
IBM is marking its centennial year with a worldwide celebration of volunteer service. Throughout 2011, IBM invites everyone to join our global community of employees, retirees, families and friends as we support the communities where we work, live and learn together.