Nikhil adds: It’s a little unusual that Reuters should hive off Market Light into a separte Indian entity and raise funds for it. I was under the impression that the company was looking to replicate the model across emerging markets. However, creating an Indian entity points towards and India centric approach, and raising money indicates to me that Reuters isn’t looking to money into it yet. We haven’t heard from RML for a while, so the sense I’m getting is that Reuters doesn’t want to pursue the job of providing agriculture market related information over SMS.
Earlier today: Thomson Reuters group has inked an agreement with venture capital firm IvyCap Ventures to support the continued development of Reuters Market Light (RML), a mobile based information service for farmers.
As part of the agreement, both the firms will be setting up a new entity called RML Information Services Private Limited, in which IvyCap Ventures will be the lead investor and Thomson Reuters will just remain as a shareholder and partner. RML founder and managing director Amit Mehra, will continue to be the CEO of the new entity.
Launched in October 2007, RML provides subscription-based agricultural, weather, market price and crop information in 8 languages. The company claims to have more than 1 million unique subscribers across an estimated 50,000 villages and 17 states in the country. The company had extended to Punjab in October 2008, Haryana in December 2008, Himachal Pradesh in April 2009 and 13 states in the country later in 2009. It had also partnered with Idea Cellular in September 2009, to launch its crop information service in Maharashtra and Goa circles and had entered into a distribution deal with Biostadt India Limited to reach farmers in Gujarat in the same month.
Similar Mobile Services for Farmers
Intuit had launched a pilot project called Fasal, a free SMS based platform offering real time price information to farmers about their crops in April 2012. In March 2012, Handygo had also partnered with an NGO, CABI to provide agricultural solutions in rural India.
In November 2011, the Government of India had also deployed a service worth Rs. 350 crores to provide real-time temperature alerts from the farms as a SMS to the farmers. In January 2010, BSNL had also partnered with National Fertilisers Ltd to launch a pilot project to provide crop related information, weather forecast, soil fertility etc to farmers over SMS.
Nokia also offers similar service through its Nokia Life (previously Nokia Life Tools) which provide agriculture related information to farmers across the country while IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited (IKSL), a joint venture of Star Global Resources Ltd, and Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), also offers agricultural info on mobile.