Council for Science and Technology for Rural India (CSTRI) and Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI) at IIT Madras (IIT M) have embarked on a quest titled, “Rural Engineering Technology Clubs (R-ETC)”, with the intention of enthusing, encouraging and enabling Rural Engineering students to identify problems in Agriculture and Self Help Groups as Production units in our villages and to provide solutions using Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
Though agriculture provides employment to more than half of our population, its contribution to the GDP has been constantly declining over the years due to a multitude of issues and difficulties faced by the farmers. Some of the barriers confronting farmers include lack of access to technical information, lack of access to market information, absence of affordable and farm-specific solutions apart from a plethora of other infrastructural, structural and socio-economic constraints. Self Help Groups were formed with the intent of creating livelihood options for people, especially women, in the rural areas. In India, though self-help groups have helped in the empowerment of women, the concept of self-help groups as production units has not proliferated and taken off in a large fashion. Again, in this segment, absence of access to market information: both demand and supply, and the lack of channels of access to markets itself are just some of the challenges.
Technology and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can definitely be leveraged to solve some of the problems in these two sectors. To spread technology and see its impact in our villages, young and energetic students of Rural Engineering colleges are the right chords!