How a simple SIM card makes farmers more efficient—and possibly saves lives

India’s GreenSIM initiative exposes rural farmers to tech and essential real-time info.

 by  Julianne Tveten 

Farmers harvest peanuts in the village of Addakal, India.


A handful of years ago, Chandrakala Kongala, a farmer in the rural village of Kommireddipalli in the southern Indian state of Telangana, faced a devastating problem. In one fell swoop, an unanticipated downpour had ravaged her peanut crop.

Farming wasn’t a leisurely pursuit for Kongala; it was her livelihood. Living in a remote area with limited access to transportation, she was ineligible to enter the mainstream job market. If the crops failed, she’d be left with no source of income.

During the following growing seasons, Kongala was flourishing. She was cultivating a variety of crops, at times harvesting earlier than anticipated. Eventually, she came to own a one-acre farm yielding hundreds of pounds of crops per harvest (her rice yield, for example, has jumped from 120 to 165 pounds). By spring of this year, she was earning 20,000 to 30,000 rupees per season ($300 to $450)—a lavish sum in a community of farmers subsisting on one to two dollars a day.

What changed? The weather may have been more temperate, but the most important factor had nothing to do with the land or the climate. Instead, it was a device familiar to much of the developed world: the SIM card.

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