an existing PC-based system—one that had a goal of “bridging the digital divide” for an agricultural district—with a mobile phone-based system in which a small, but relevant amount of data is transferred to farmers via SMS (short message service) text messaging. Rural PC projects meant to serve socio-economic development are plentiful, but, in many cases, the PCs are overkill and cost too much to maintain. Warana Unwired sought to replace just such a PC-based system for managing information in a sugarcane cooperative in rural Maharashtra with an SMS-based mobile phone system. In an eight-month trial involving seven villages, Warana Unwired successfully replicated all of the PC-based functionality and was found to be less expensive, more convenient, and more popular with farmers than the previous PC-based system. This article discusses the early investigations of the Warana Wired Village Project that led to the conception and implementation of the Warana Unwired project. The new system is described in detail, and results, both quantitative and qualitative, are analyzed.
Warana, PCs; Mobile telephony; digital divide; rural communities; information management; SMS