On the 29th of October, 2009 Bangladesh Institute of ICT in Development (BIID) in collaboration with Katalyst and Grameen Phone Ltd at an event in the village of Protapur in Sreepur, Gazipur formally launched the scaling up and replication of the e-Krishok campaign.
At the same time, the event was used to rebrand Grameen Phone’s Community Information Center (GPCIC) in order to revamp its image and also to differentiate the CICs from Grameen Phone Centers. It is mentionable that BIID is implementing a partnership between Grameen Phone (GP) and Katalyst Bangladesh, a multi-donor funded development project.
Within the scope of this partnership, BIID has been supporting GPCIC network as its capacity building partner in the areas of new service development, service promotion and new center roll out.
The event was held at the GPCIC of the village; its name is Katha Telecom and is owned by Mr. Anwar Hossain. The launching event was attended by Grameen Phone’s Director of Internet Services Mr. Odd-Egil Aasen, Katalyst’s Group Director Mr. Shahroz Jalil and BIID’s CEO Mr. Shahid Uddin Akbar. Besides this there were numerous local dignitaries at the event.
Mr. Aasen remarked that the most potential viable market is at the bottom of the economic pyramid—the masses of poor rural people who have been left behind by the digital revolution; and are hence in the wrong side of the digital divide. He affirmed GP’s commitment to continue bringing the benefits of information and ICTS to farmers and rural communities of Bangladesh.
e-Krishok is a campaign aimed at rural farmers with the vision of bridging that digital divide. Its objective is to provide farmers with informational and advisory services through the application of ICTs. Rural farmers in Bangladesh face various types of problems and difficulties throughout the year. At times their crops are attacked by pests and at other times their crops start to die as result of disease. These are the times that a farmer needs information and advice with his problems. This is where the CIC comes into the picture. Farmers can go to their local CIC whenever they are having any sort of agricultural problems. The CICs are now equipped to be able to provide such informational and advisory services using a repository (www.ruralinfobd,com
) of agricultural information and knowledge. Besides, problems that a CIC entrepreneur can not address using its web based resources are referred to an agriculturist. Usually, a solution is afforded to a farmer within 24 hours.
Thus the e-Krishok campaign is geared to build awareness among the farmers as well as the CIC entrepreneurs & operators to avail the information and advisory services. Stimulating demand with building capacity in parallel is the key strategy of e-Krishok campaign so that farmers can avail these services on demand, at the right time and as well as at a low cost structure.
By the year end 2009, BIID will have spread e-Krishok to over 100 locations throughout rural Bangladesh; thereby creating an enabling environment for farmers to increase their incomes and diversify their income generating activities.