The biggest problem plaguing rural supply chains is lack of information and/or information assymetry. However, owing to the developments in technology in recent years, it is now possible to reach out to the remote rural locations and make such information available at a fraction of a cost than what was possible in the past. The Govt. has tried several measures to reach out to the remote rural locations through pamplets, radio and now television to provide the information for free. However, the fact that there is a huge difference between the prices of vegetables leaving the villages and the prices of vegetables reaching the urban consumers’ table indicates that there is a certain case of lack of information (on how to sort vegetables, how to grow vegetables which spoil a little slower) or information assymetry (demand for the vegetable on a particular day).
It is obvious that availability of such information with the rural entrepreneurs/rural masses enables them to improve the way in which they run their business/ take care of basic needs (like education, health). It is also true that technology has improved and penetrated to a great extent and permits the development of a platform that can deliver information at a very low cost.
The hitch here is two fold: 1.) Would people be interested in paying for the information?
2.) Do they have the money to pay for the information?
When it comes to businesses or life saving information, the second question is not important. Off course, there is a need to share information for free (something like where is the nearest shelter in a floodhit area) but in cases where you get to know a better agricultural practice which can be implemented at almost no additional cost, would there be people who would pay for it?
The “sale” of information on better methods of crop production, crop prices, better dairy management, etc is something that a lot of people have considered with the use of technology but only few have been able to monetize it.
Is it completely impossible to monetise information dissemination? Is giving infromation as a Value Add to existing product or service sales the only way? Should the channel partners delivering products/services to the rural masses finance the cost of delivering the information or should the rural masses (who make use of the information and services to increase returns) also pay for it? How do we make them pay?
You may find it interesting to go through a presentation on the use of ICT for Agricultural development, which lists out the various methods used to make information available to the farmers using technology.