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India Takes Farm Bureaus Into The 21st Century
Alex Steffen, 23 Jan 04

This is one of those ideas which, once you've heard it, you're surprised it hasn't been done yet, so obvious are its benefits: the Indian government is setting up free call-centers to distribute agricultural information to farmers.

"India's hundreds of millions of farmers have a new friend in the eternal battle against failing crops and cattle diseases. Under a government scheme, agricultural workers in India's ancient, rural economy will have access to an innovation symbolic of India's booming new economy - the telephone call centre. Farmers who make the free phone call to the centre will find themselves speaking to one of many multi-lingual agricultural science graduates, trained to troubleshoot farming problems."

In the 1930s and 40s, American government agricultural officers performed miracles in their efforts to save family farms and teach farmers better, more sustainable ways of using their land (that their efforts were later destroyed by government policies favoring Big Ag should in no way undercut their worth). Better information won't itself change inequitable global trade systems, prevent the mis-use of bioengineered crops or stave-off greenhouse-driven droughts, but it does make farmers' lives better. And I have no doubt that those same aggies would be using technologies like these if they were working today.

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