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is an initiative of ITC Limited, a large multi business conglomerate inIndia, to link
directly with rural farmers via the Internet for procurement of agriculturalandaquaculture
products like soybeans, wheat, coffee, and prawns. e-Choupal was conceived to tackle thechallenges posed by the unique features of Indian agriculture, characterized by fragmentedfarms, weak infrastructure and the involvement of numerous intermediaries. The programmeinvolves the installation of computers with Internet access in rural areas of India to offer farmersup-to-date marketing and agricultural information.
 Problems addressed
Traditionally,commoditieswere procured in
(major agricultural marketingcentres inrural areas of India), where the middleman used to make most of the profit. These middlemenused unscientific and sometimes outright unfair
means to judge the quality of the product to set the price. The difference in price between good quality and inferior quality waslittle, and therefore there was no incentive for the farmers to invest and produce good qualityoutput. With e-Choupal, the farmers have a choice and the exploitative power of the middlemanis neutralised.
 Effects of e-Choupal
ITC Limited has now provided computers and Internet access in rural areas across severalagricultural regions of the country, where the farmers can directly negotiate the sale of their produce with ITC Limited. This online access enables farmers to obtain information on mandi prices, and good farming practices, and to place orders for agricultural inputs like seeds andfertilizers. This helps farmers improve the quality of their products, and helps in obtaining a better price. Each ITC Limited kiosk having Internet access is run by a sanchalak ² a trainedfarmer. The computer is housed in the sanchalak's house and is linked to the Internet via phonelines or by aVSATconnection. Each installation serves an average of 600 farmers in thesurrounding ten villages within about a 5 km radius. The sanchalak bears some operating cost butin return earns a service fee for the e-transactions done through his e-Choupal. The warehousehub is managed by the same traditional middle-men, now called samyojaks, but with noexploitative power due to the reorganisation. Indeed these middlemen make up for the lack of infrastructure and fulfill critical jobs like cash disbursement, quantity aggregation andtransportantion.Since the introduction of e-Choupal services, farmers have seen a rise in their income levels because of a rise in yields, improvement in quality of output, and a fall in transaction costs. Evensmall farmers have gained from the initiative. Customized and relevant knowledge is offered tothe farmers despite heterogeneous cultures, climates andscales of production. Farmers can get