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ANALYSIS

Acute urban-rural divide in Internet access among farmers across India
Tuesday, 08 January, 2019, 13 : 00 PM [IST]
Lüdinghausen
India is currently witnessing a mobile Internet boom. However, there is an acute urban-rural digital divide, urban Internet penetration being way higher than rural Internet penetration. This was one of the findings of a survey of the Internet behaviour of Indian maize farmers conducted by Kleffmann Group over a two-year period (spanning 2016 and 2017).

While 4,294 farmers participated in the study in 2016, 4,225 farmers participated in it in 2017. It indicated that the scenario was changing very quickly - in the first year, 13 per cent of farmers had access to the Internet, but a season later, the number increased to 17 per cent.

The most common way to access the Internet was via mobile phones, but a small proportion of them accessed it via personal computers (PCs) or laptops. While access to the Internet had increased, its usage was still low, and Kleffmann Group did not witness a steep increase in the frequency of their usage.

Comparing the data for 14 maize-growing Indian states, we witness significant variations in Internet penetration across states. For example, Internet penetration in Gujarat has crossed the 50 per cent mark. And, every one in three farmers in Maharashtra and Punjab have access to the Internet. However, states like Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh are far behind with single-digit Internet penetration.

The use of the Internet for agriculture-related information has increased tremendously. In 2016, 25 per cent of the farmers surveyed used the Internet to obtain agricultural information. By 2017, this figure rose to 41 per cent. In the same time period, farmers who use the Internet to entertain themselves also rose from 70 per cent to 81 per cent. These trends indicate the overall opportunity this platform presents to manufacturers and marketers of agricultural produce.

 
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