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Farmer Registering His Query
     Lifelines India Project has its origins in the Digital Inclusion Initiative, which is a part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative of British Telecom (BT). Digital Inclusion Initiative assumes that access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) can improve people's lives and open doors to education, jobs, entertainment and interactions. Launched in August 2004, Lifelines India project builds on OneWorld's Open Knowledge Network (OKN) initiative, which focuses on the creation and exchange of local content in local languages across the South. Based on the principles of OKN, BT and OWSA have come together to harness the power of voice as the primary means of information dissemination to provide- Connectivity, Content and Capability.
The project would provide voice based Question and Answer services to rural communities in India. OWSA would implement this project in three areas of North India. Starting with Q & As based on all matters relating to agriculture the program will be expanded to cover other topics of significant interest to rural communities. TARAhaat is currently implemented the programme commonly known as Soochna se samadhaan sewa in the Bundelkhand region. A team of 12 EDVs (Ek Duniya Volunteers) and one agri-coordinator is working at the field level. These field people visit farmers to generate agriculture related queries. The success can be tracked from the figure that in the last six months more than 6000 queries were generated covering 251 villages of Bundelkhand region. In its current phase (April’07 to March’08) the programme is expected to reach more than 350 villages.

How it Works?

    A farmer with the help of a volunteer calls up phone number – 022-3911-6000 – and puts up a query that is recorded and stored in a computer. The farmer gets a reference number for his/her query. Knowledge workers from agri-business organizations analyse these calls and collate appropriate answers. These answers are stored in the computer against the reference number for retrieval by the farmer when he/she calls back again for the answer. The answers are to be given within 24 hours.

    The information can also be retrieved in text format from the Information Centre near to the village. The farmers can send pictures along with their questions, and also voice clips to clarify on the issue.

    The service has been pilot launched in villages of Bundelkand region of UP/MP and Himachal Pradesh in partnership with India Society for Agribusiness Professionals and TARAhaat. Local volunteers will facilitate the use of the service by the farmers. The farmers can also visit the nearest information centre to access the offline database in local language, listen to the audio clips and also to send pictures of affected crops.

     The application has the potential to address a large variety of knowledge and information problems at the local level. Lifelines India would also serve the grassroots communities with information and knowledge from other sectors like education, health, livelihoods, grievances, RTI etc.
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