Harnessing the power of mobile

April 15th, 2014

The Practical Answers call centre in Bangladesh is now live – giving us a great opportunity to increase our reach exponentially. The initiative – which we have been piloting for a couple of years, is a partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture. Apparently it’s completely unique – because the Freephone short code (16123) has been recognised and endorsed by all the main telecom operators in the country.call centre
There are no shortage of call centres in Bangladesh – where the mobile phone seems almost ubiquitous. We have had a lot of debate about the business model behind the call centre – why should we be subsidising anything that the private sector could do more effectively? And how do we make it sustainable in the longer term?

The answer on this occasion is that private sector initiatives have not reached the poorest farmers (where knowledge can have most impact) because of their high call charges . And in the medium term we are looking at an annual very low subscription service – rather than cost per call, which shouldn’t get in the way of accessibility.
The new Krishi Call Centre is going to be advertised through national tv, and will handle enquiries on livestock, agriculture and fisheries. According to a government press release – it could benefit a staggering 20 million poor farmers – by supplying them with cutting edge information.
Every answer from the call centre – will be of the highest quality, having been approved by the experts in the Ministry themselves. The call centre will also be proactive in generating new knowledge based on the work done by Practical Answers’ extension agents who are out in the field meeting farmers every day.
Check back here in a few months and we’ll let you know how it’s getting on.

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