E-COMMERCE PORTAL FOR POVERTY REDUCTION

How can e-commerce and IT help eliminate poverty and boost our agriculture sector

By MUHAMMAD HAMMAD BASHIR
MBA (ITM), ACCA, PGD (HRM) , PGD (WTO)

May 24 - 30, 2004

Pakistan is basically an agricultural country. Agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistan's economy. Nearly one-fourth of total output (GDP) and 44 percent of total employment is generated in this sector. It not only provides food and fibre to 152 million people but also is a source of raw materials to domestic industry as well as for exports. It employs 44 percent of country's work force while 67.5 percent of the population living in rural areas, draws its livelihood from agriculture sector. Twenty eight percent of its area is under cultivation. Whatever happens to agriculture is bound to affect not only the country's growth performance but also a large segment of the country's population as well.

Villages are the place where farmers cultivate their crops. Unfortunately the farmers on having limited resources are not been able to access the market. The poor farmer is exploited for his limited knowledge and resources to access the market. He is not given the price, which he deserves after a lot of hard work. The feudal lords locally called as "waderas" or "jageerdars" fill their own pocket or the farmer is forced to sell his crop to the middleman locally called as "aarhti".

Resultantly the hard working farmer of our country is left with nothing at the end of the day. Working through out the season and ending up with nothing makes farmer frustrated. It is also a fact that higher the frustration in a country more will be the crime rate.

As information technology has brought a revolution in our life altogether. IT also provides a solution for the problem under discussion. Now a days Internet facility is available through out the country almost two hundred and sixty-five cities have the access. Even in many backward areas this utility is provided. But unfortunately Internet is not being used practically in these area. In fact in most of the cases. It is being used negatively.

The point is how to make use of this utility? The answer is simple; Internet can takes you to the world's biggest market.

All what a farmer needs is "a platform to communicate with buyers in the market".

This gap can be filled by making a "web portal" for the farmers.

But again the problem is that the literacy rate in the country is not satisfactory and especially in rural areas literacy rate is too low, so what to talk about computer literacy?

This flaw can be covered by making by kiosks in any office say local post offices of the area along with computers and a computer operator.

On this portal daily rates of cotton, wheat, rice, sugar cane, vegetables, poultry items and dairy items bought by the government agencies will be given. All sort of trading of agricultural goods would be made possible through this portal with the help of the person sitting in kiosks. Since Internet is a fast mode of communication. So instead, the crop after cutting, being sold by the farmer to the middleman who takes it to the market. The distribution channel would be squeezed, thus providing the farmer an easy access to the market.

The portal will not only introduce Pakistani farmers in the global market but would ultimately lead to an important source of revenue for the country.

The idea might seem effort taking but once it is implemented then its results would help a lot in boosting agriculture in the country. And most importantly can stop the Wadrera and Aarthi depriving our poor farmer's hard earned income.

Since the Internet is available and I think this is the best use of Internet for our rural area. It can help a lot in poverty reduction. And if implemented will be a blessings for our poor masses.