Launched in June 2000, ‘e-Choupal’ is one of the largest Internet-based intervention in rural India which reaches out to more than 4 million farmers growing a range of crops – soybeans, coffee, wheat, rice, pulses, shrimp etc. This initiative is specifically designed to tackle the challenges posed by the unique features of Indian agriculture, characterised by fragmented farms, weak infrastructure and the involvement of numerous intermediaries. The ‘e-Choupal’ delivers global information on weather, scientific farming practices and market prices to the farmers in their local language.
This case study is part of a research project that sought to analyse how different telecentre models approach development on the ground, proceeding to elaborate a typology based on the cornerstones of participation and equity. To conduct this assessment, four telecentre projects were examined the Gujarat government’s e-Gram project, the corporate-led venture by ITC called e-Choupal, the private enterprise model of Drishtee, and the community-owned telecentres of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF). Two main criteria were used in selecting the case studies – the diversity of ownership models, and the requirement of a sufficient scale of the intervention. In addition to the field research conducted in 2008 using qualitative methods, the research also built on secondary sources.