This Chatbot Democratizes Data to Empower India’s Farmers

Article by Abha Malpani Naismith: “…The lack of access to market price information and reliance on intermediaries to sell on their behalf leaves farmers vulnerable to price exploitation and uncertain returns on their investments.

To solve this, Gramhal is building a data cooperative in India where farmers contribute their information to a data ecosystem, which all farmers can leverage for better informed decision-making…

The social enterprise started the project to democratize data first by using the Indian government’s collected data sets from markets and crops across the country. It then built a chatbot (called Bolbhav) and plugged in that data. Soon about 300,000 farmers were accessing this data set via the chatbot on their mobile phones. 

“We spent no money on marketing — this was all just from word of mouth!” Kaleem said. 

gramhal chatbot provides market data for small farmers in India
Gramhal’s Bolbhav chatbot provides farmers with market data so they know how to fairly price their crops. 

However, Gramhal started getting feedback from farmers that the chatbot was giving them prices three days old and what they wanted was real-time, reliable data. “That is when we realized that we need to work with the power of community and think about a societal network framework where every farmer who is selling can contribute to the data and have access to it,” Kaleem explained. “We needed to find a way where the farmer can send price information about what they are selling by uploading their receipts, and we can aggregate that data across markets and share it with them.”

The solution was an upgraded version of the chatbot called Bolbhav Plus, which Gramhal launched in April 2023…(More)”