Digital Mandi Application For The Indian Kisan

1. Introduction:


“Digital Mandi Application for Indian Kisan” is a unique web and cell phone based multimodal agriculture commodity price retrieval system. It has been developed by BITCOE (BSNL IIT-Kanpur Centre of Excellence) at IIT-Kanpur. BITCOE came into existence on 12th December 2007 with the signing of a tri-partite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Department of Telecommunication, Government of India, BSNL & IIT Kanpur. “Digital Mandi Application for Indian Kisan” service was formally inaugurated by Hon’ble MOC & IT on 29th August 2011 and is operational since then.


This service provides a registered farmer alerts through SMS and/or voice on his mobile about selected mandi rates of selected crops. For this service a farmer can register either through the help of officials available in Mandis (assisted mode) or directly through his mobile phone by SMS or on WAP portal. The registration menu has been prepared by IIT- Kanpur. This service shall be made available on subscription basis at very economical rates which will be deducted from his mobile phone. For a crop the subscription time is expected to be about 3 months. Additionally the registration is also being done by the agricultural officers of Odisha State as it has been selected as the first state for deployment


2. Brief About System/Software Developed


Digital Mandi for the Indian Kisan presents a unique web and cell phone based multi modal agriculture commodity pricing retrieval system. The query and retrieval can be done via internet kiosks or on any GPRS enabled cell phone. Typical cost of a low end GPRS enabled cell phone in India is Rs.2500, which makes this technology accessible and affordable. This multi modal system is efficient when compared to speech based uni-modal systems which are limited by the speech recognition accuracy in noisy and outdoor conditions. The system is multi lingual. English and other Indian Languages namely Hindi, Punjabi and Kannada are supported. The unique aspects of this system are that both the queries and the retrieval are multi modal. The queries can be placed through both image and textual modalities. The delivery of the required information is done through the textual modality. Multi modal retrieval is realized by delivering the requested agro commodity price via a voice call placed to the subscriber. Additional Voice based access is also provided for non GPRS enabled cell phone users making the system truly multi modal. A pictorial illustration of the system is illustrated in Figure 1.


Figure 1: A pictorial representation of an Indian farmer querying crop prices using his cell phone.


2.1 The system works in two modes:


       a. GPRS Mode: This is meant for the savvy farmer with access to GPRS phones. The GPRS Mode system has the following features:

  • Both queries and the retrieval are multi modal 
  • The queries can be placed through both image and textual modalities.
  • The delivery of the required information is done through the textual modality.
  • Multi modal retrieval is realized by delivering the requested agro commodity price via a voice call placed to the subscriber.
  • Additional Voice based access is also provided.
  • for non GPRS enabled cell phone users making the system truly multi modal.
  • The system can be accessed by even a very economic cell phone of say Rs. 1500.
  • It is the first multi modal agro commodity pricing system to be developed anywhere in India and deployed on a service provider's network.

       b. Offline and Web Based Registration Mode: This mode is for the Common Famer with access to a simple cell phone with an activated SIM card of any service provider. In this mode the farmer registers at his nearest mandi with the State APMC officers/data entry operator help. The registration data is recorded at IIT Kanpur database. Depending on the choice of the farmer Both SMS and Voice calls in their local languages are sent to the farmer as per his choice.


2.2 Other Unique features in GPRS mode: Another unique feature of this system is the outbound calling feature. Using this feature of the system the farmer can just type in his cell phone number in case he is not able read the local language (Hindi) and the system places an outbound call to his cell phone with the price of the commodity he requested for. The outbound calling feature as displayed on the cell phone is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: The final screen in the Mandi price retrieval system showing the outbound calling feature.


2.3 Current deployment status The application has been deployed on the BSNL national network. BSNL cell phone users can access the applications from anywhere in the country by going to the 'BSNL Live' home page and scrolling to the bottom of the screen. A screenshot has been shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3 Cell Phone Screen shot of the system under deployment in Hindi


2.4 Summary Features of service

A user registration form is provided on the cell phone wher a user can register his name, desired mandi names, and desired crops. Once the registration is done the next time a user browses the digital mandi he will be directly provided with both text and voice based access in his native chosen language

  • The system can provide information in Haryana and UP (Hindi), Punjab (Punjabi), and Karnataka (Kannada) currently Other states and languages will be added later.
  • An option for direct access is also provided. Thus the guest Users can also avail the Text and Voice Response Features.
  • An option called ‘My mandi’ is provided where the user can directly access his selected mandi and crop prices.
  • The option of receiving SMS based prices is provided.
  • Prices of selected Mandi’s and Crops delivered to the farmer through Text and Voice alerts to the Farmers.
  • Voice Response Generated using a Natural Sounding Text to Speech Synthesis System

2.5 Status of integration with NIC servers and collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture:

For the “Digital Mandi” service, data is taken by solution (presently located at IIT-Kanpur) from NIC servers through web integration. Currently the price of agro commodities is being retrieved from the Agmarknet portal maintained by NIC and facilitated by an MOU with the Ministry of Agriculture. The frequency of fetching data from NIC server by solution can be as per requirement. On NIC servers’ data is updated directly by APMCs from local mandis on regular basis(twice a day).


3. Brief about BSNL’s network:

BSNL’s Cellular Mobile Operations is divided into four Zones viz. East, West, North and South, comprising of the licensed service areas as defined below:


S. No.


Licensed service areas



Orissa, West Bengal, Calcutta Telecom District, Bihar including Jharkhand,

NE-I including NE-II, Assam, A&N



Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh including Chhatisgarh



Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, UP (East), UP (West) including

Uttranchal, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir



Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chennai Telecom District



BSNL has deployed Ericsson make SDP at north & East zones and Tele DNA make SDP at West & South zone


4. Hardware & Software requirement:

The system requires a web server and a voice server which interact with each other. The hardware & software being used currently at IIT Kanpur is listed below:


      4.1 Web Server Configuration 


  • Intel(R) Xeon (R) CPU E5450 @ 3.00GHz
  • Ubuntu 10.04.2 LTS PHP Version 5.3,
  • PHP Curl, MySQL Version 5.1, Apache 2.0

      4.2 Voice Server Configuration


  • Intel(R) Xeon (R) CPU X5670 @ 2.93GHz
  • RAM 24 GB, HDD 250 GB
  • A200/Remora FXO/FXS Analog AFT card SOFTWARE
  • Ubuntu 10.04.2 LTS
  • Asterisk 1.8, DAHDI Linux 2.6.0, DAHDI Tools 2.6.0, LibPRI 1.4.12
  • Apache 2.0, MySQL 5.1, PHP 5.3, PHP-AGI, Shell Script


5.Integration requirement of this system


      5.1 For the Offline or Web Based Registration mode, the system operates in three parts. First the farmer will register for his choice of crops and prices into the IIT Kanpur system with the help of agricultural officers from respective mandis of state agricultural boards. Second IIT Kanpur keeps an updated version of the database for each state by connecting to or getting data from NIC servers. Third based on the farmer query or registration. choices both SMS and Voice calls via text to speech synthesis are sent to the farmer. A general Block diagram of the system is shown below:


Step I: Farmer Registration Process


Step II: Interaction with NIC AGMARKNET Database

Step III: Text to Speech Synthesis

5.2   For the GPRS mode the Step II and Step III remain the same. However the farmer accesses the system through a UI, via a GPRS enabled cell phone


6. Regarding VR (voice response), format of voice files generated by text to speech software developed by IIT-K. :


The current format of the voice files generated is RAW/WAV. The architecture of the system is such that this audio file is generated by text to speech synthesis and piped to the Voice server which will further relay the sound file to the farmer once the outbound call is placed.


Contact Person:    Prof Rajesh Hegde

                               Associate Professor

                               Department of Electrical Engg,IIT Kanpur



Technologies Developed Developed By
Dirgadhi Tech
Log9 Materials
Niral Networks


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