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The number of mobile phone subscriber crossed 100 million landmarks (in April 2013) which was 90 million last year. Table: Mobile phone subscribers Operators Active subscribers Grameen 42.372 Banglalink 26.309 Robi 21.697 Airtel 07.557 City Cell 1.425 Teletalk 1.844 Total 101.205 Million There is no doubt that mobile phone based Call Centre holds the promise of transforming agricultural information and communication service into a new dimension like others interventions such as – Community Radio, Mobile based text message etc. Not only in Bangladesh Call Centers are becoming important part of many economic ventures and business in different part of the world. In India, Kisan Call Centre (KCC) has been reaching more than 3 lakh of clients where Government of India is supporting a lot giving toll free calls. Similar initiatives is found in Kenya too. The ‘Krishi Call Centre’in Bangladesh is a joint initiative of Practical Action in Bangladesh and the Agricultural Information Service (AIS) under the Ministry of Agriculture in Bangladesh. The objective of the centre is to provide • Faster access to agricultural information and associated accompaniment in agriculture, livestock, fisheries, nutrition and weather especially for poor farmers. • Guidance of expert agriculturist • Direct talk with expert subject maters specialists • Develop location specific real time content for farmers In 2011 (June) a primary Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed among three parties Practical Action (a UK based INGO), Agriculture Information Service (AIS) and a technical partner named ‘Connect-7’. The MoU allowed for the installation of the ICT infrastructure of the call centre at the AIS premises, started its test transmission in June 2012. During the period the call centre has registered 20,000 enquires from 18,000 clients. Instantly responded 9000 calls and rest around 50% were responded later after finding the answers from other sources. Of which only 4000 clients have been followed up that they have used the information satisfactorily. Most of the clients were agriculture/crop farmers around 20-30% are livestock and fisheries farmers. Recently we have got approval of the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Bangladesh to sign a formal MoU to go take this service more effectively throughout the country. The “Krishi Call Centre” is expected to be sustainable with a ‘Revenue Generating’ business model and action plan. The main objective of the final MoU is to get formal endorsement of the “Krishi Call Centre” by the Ministry of Agriculture to ahead in future and to make the service more effective for the huge clients. Operating Model The call centre is physically housed with the AIS, who have given space, electricity, and their content as their contribution. We have followed the guideline of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BRTC) for installing the call centre software and hardware.
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