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Internet brings prosperity for farmers
CNN-IBN - 23 Feb 2007

Hardoi, Uttar Pradesh: Four years ago Ichnapur used to be like any other village – farmers were steeped in poverty and debt.

Today the world is at its fingertips with an ITC e-choupal. An e-choupal is an Internet café that ITC has set up.

The farmers of Ichnapur get together once a week, log on to the World Wide Web and get information that has changed a centuries old profession and their lives.

"We now order very good fertiliser and seeds on the internet which has increased our output tremendously," said Dharnir Aman, a farmer.

The computer has freed them from another yoke – they no longer cart their produce to a mandi and sell through middlemen who underpay them. They sell directly to ITC.

"Earlier at the mandi we were told that our crops had too much moisture or blight and we got less money. Now we are not cheated like that because ITC has got rid of the middlemen," said another farmer Ashutosh Dixit.

This way the farmer gets 50 per cent more of his grain and ITC pays 20 percent less than it did 4 years ago.

What you see behind me is an ITC mandi where farmers from Hardoi district come and sell their produce to ITC at market determined prices.

Now with their pockets full of money the farmers have become a source of revenue for ITC. They want the farmers to come and shop at a rural mall.

A Choupal Sagar is like any urban hypermarket except that besides the usual products it also stocks fertiliser and seeds.

ITC says it's such a success that it will open 45 more such stores across India in a year.

ITC's success is perhaps a reflection that there's a fortune to be made at the bottom of the pyramid as well.

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