Journey of Krishi Call Centre: Hello……16123

The toll free Krishi Call centre in Bangladesh has received 2496 calls over the last 2 months and per day 52 calls after it formally launched this free number 16123.

fruitThis is the monsoon period and average temperature 36°C. Many fruits grow so this month is called ‘Modhu mas (month of honey)”. People have access to many varieties of indigenous fruits, a major source of low cost vitamins for the majority of poor and extreme poor.  As well as seasonal fruits  the good news for the Bangladeshi people is they have got toll free number to call from any mobile without payment to get advice and information related to agriculture from the Krishi Call Centre, a joint initiative of Practical Action Bangladesh and Ministry of Agriculture, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.  Therefore we see very rapidly it has become popular and people’s are asking questions about their real needs.

Chart in Microsoft Word copyAnalyzing the last two months of calls to this centre, we have found most of the enquiries were from crop sub-sectors and rice related questions are more frequent than others. They were about rice pests, diseases, fertilizer dosage and high yielding varieties. Besides there were also some enquiries about how to control disease and pests of vegetables. It is interesting that pattern of questions were mostly based on seasonal characteristics, related crops intensity and problems faced by the farmers. Currently it is summer in Bangladesh and average humidity is (82-86%) therefore growth of the insect population is high.

Summer is called as “Modhu mas” (month of honey) as there is a lot of fruit produced in this seasonlike guava, jack fruit, mango, pineapple, papaya and banana. So peoples also asked frequently how to protect those fruits from rotting.

Diseases of cows, ducks, goats, sheep and some birds like pigeons and farming related questions were the major part of livestock queries. Specially, fish drying and, growth problems are the most common for fishery related questions to the call centre.

Examples of enquiries

Tarikul Islam, a farmer from Sirajganj wanted to get advice on how to protect his paddy field from Majra puka (Tryporyza incertulas – yellow stem borer).  This  insect is a common paddy pest in Bangladesh. Niharika Das Gupta who holds a Master’s in Agriculture, from Banga Bandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agriculture University is one of the call centre executives. She suggested, “You can use a hand net to catch and kill those insects. Besides you can use light trap or duck rearing in rice field are also helpful to control this insect.”  These are all organic ways to control pests. One of the extension policies of the Department of Agriculture in Bangladesh is to promote Integrated Pest Management. Therefore our trained call executive took the opportunity to promote this method as well as reduce the misuse of chemical pest control. We know that chemical pest control in early stage of growing rice also destroys beneficial insects like ladybird beetles and insect predator frogs which is not good for environment.

Md Jahedul Islam from Rangpur posted a question to our veterinary expert Rasha Farzana, who is a Doctor of Veterinary and Medicine (DVM), a fresh University graduate.  Jahedul enquired, “My cow urine is reddish”. The expert answered him to test urine in nearby upazila livestock office so that he would be confirmed whether it was Babesiosis disease of cow. She added after diagnosis of urine he should consult with nearest Upazila Livestock Officer.

advertAt present we do not have  a massive media campaign like advertisements in daily newspapers, television and radio because these may increase the already large call volume per day and it would be impossible to tackle these with only three call executives.  Long waiting times may mean that people are not keen to call again which would create a negative impression of the call centre. However the Bangladesh Government has already allocated  budget to recruit more staff for the Krishni Call Centre.

Since it is a specialized area, in many cases call executives may not be able to provide instant answer of those technical enquiries. So Practical Action Bangladesh has developed a Call Centre Content Management System (CMS), wherea  huge number of agriculture, livestock and fisheries-related technical questions and answers are uploaded. Besides the call centre has a collection of relevant books, booklet, brochure, journal, magazines, multimedia contents and different agricultural websites.  The call centre maintains an expert pool who are connected with call executives to transfer the relevant enquirer to the respective expert.

Agriculture is a major employment sector in Bangladesh and positioned second in contribution to the country’s total GDP.  Bangladesh’s rice production tripled from 1970s and crop intensity has increased from 153% to 179% in three decades yet there is much scope to improve along with challenges like reducing cultivable land per annum, increasing risks of climate change and frequencies of natural disasters where farmers need real time agricultural advice.

Krishi Call centre is the, timely initiative in the country’s existing extension services as this has created diversity, reduce dependency on extension agents and created access to poor and marginalized farmers in the extension services.

Authors: Md. Kamrul Islam Bhuiyan, Sr. Knowledge Officer (M&E), Practical Action, Bangladesh and Md. A. Halim Miah, Coordinator- Operations, Knowledge Management, Practical Action, Bangladesh.  

6 responses to “Journey of Krishi Call Centre: Hello……16123”

  1. Mehrab Ul Goni Says:

    This is the first ever initiative of its kind in Bangladesh. Too young to comment about as well. Seems there are challenges ahead, especially in connecting the enquirer with the right specialist. Congrats – well described.

  2. Margaret Says:

    Congratulations! Love the practical help for farmers and the partnership with the government which should help Practical Action take the service to scale sustainably.

  3. S. M. Alauddin Says:

    Very good initiative! Need largely to inform our farmers about Krishi Call Centre. The Call Centre is really a ‘practical help’ for the farmers.

  4. Mokhlesur Rahman Says:

    Congratulations to both of the authors!

    I enjoyed reading it.
    The Krishi Call centre is really a nice milestone achievement to meet up knowledge gap. I believe, gradually, it will be a dependable channel of information for millions of farmers in BANGLADESH. To me, right information can make a big change! Good job!
    Keep it up!

  5. Rasha Says:

    feeling nice to be a part of krishi Call Centre 🙂

  6. Md. A. Halim Miah Says:

    “Halve global per capita food waste”, SDGs 12.3 that target says to reduce halve global per capita food waste by 2030, at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses. My ex colleague Md. Kamrul Islam and me jointly wrote this blog based on the findings of Krishi Call Centre real time advisory services to our marginalized small holders who are the main driver of the Country’s 160 million people’s food security. In the September 19, 2017 I joined in the side event of #UNGA72 at UNHQ on the issue of ” Championing the SDG 12.3 & pathway to Zero Hunger”, organized by #FAO, #IFAD and #WFP. This high level political forum urged again to invest , contribute, research and support to innovative agriculture works, supply chain, production and post harvesting loss and damages of food crops so that can attain the target of SDG 12.3 and largely contribute the SDG 2. I am again conveying acknowledging Practical Action as I worked there and contributed to establish the Krishi Call Centre ( ICT based agriculture advisory services), an unique services that built GO-NGO partnership in Bangladesh with aiming to diversified and accelerating the extension services for the poor and remote farmers and agricultural- traders. Still this Centre has been facing the challenging to reach the farming communities live in southern -coastal regions in Bangladesh. Those people are in multifaceted of poverty due to climate change. I visited three such districts and met around 160s men and women who represented from 12 communities of three such climate hot spots districts. They appealed that they tried to call 16123 for agriculture advisory services but failed to reach even after six to 17 times trialed. However Krishi Call Centre has extended the number of front advisers ( Call Executives) from 3 to double but subsequently the number of subscribers are also gradually increasing through subscribers to subscribers and alliances and partners. Therefore I am urging development partners, relevant ministry and particularly UN agencies like #FAO, #WFP, #IFAD, #UNWOMEN, to come forward to expand this services for the beneficial of our women producers those who merely access to traditional gender biased extension services.

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