IKSL mobile phone messages act as alert system in coastal Odisha

Bhubaneswar: The IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited (IKSL) has saved many lives in coastal Odisha by sounding an alert ahead of the devastating cyclone Phailin through its unique mobile phone message facility, a senior official of the company today said.

"Our voice and text message services, normally availed by farmers and fishermen, were effectively used for alerting people in the vast coastal belt about the very severe cyclone well in time," IKSL's Odisha Manager R C Pattanayak said.

A subsidiary of fertiliser cooperative major IFFCO, IKSL's messages played a significant role in facilitating systematic and timely evacuation of lakhs of people from vulnerable areas to safer places before the cyclone hit the state on October 12, he said.

"The state government and other agencies have also acknowledged the IKSL's contribution, which has its network in 26 of the 30 districts of Odisha," Pattanayak said.

Besides farmers and fishermen, lakhs of others moved to safe shelters in order to save themselves in districts like the worst-hit Ganjam, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Khurda, Cuttack, Bhadrak and Balasore after learning about the disaster from IKSL's messages, he said.

"It acted as a magic as the unique voice message platform with helpline facility is available for over 2.12 lakh enrolled base with an active listening base of about 1.53 lakh …and the message reached lakhs of others who are not enrolled," said the IKSL manager.

Operating in Odisha since 2009, IKSL works for empowerment of farmers and rural population, generating livelihood options for unemployed youth, Self Help Groups and village level entrepreneurs, Pattayanak said.

Being an IFFCO subsidiary, its consistent focus is to strengthen the cooperative societies by generating additional business for them, he said, adding the unique business model of IKSL has been widely accepted by many including milk cooperatives.

Referring to community driven projects of IKSL, Pattanayak said an initiative has been taken with the approval from the state Cooperation department to provide awareness among farmers about Kisan Credit Card (KCC).

Voice messages on financial literacy, KCC, interest rate and rebate on timely repayments other than agriculture messages are sent to about 39,000 people so far enrolled in this community. IKSL, Odisha aims to enrol about three lakh farmers in this community soon, he said.

Regarding initiatives in fisheries sector, Pattanayak said a joint operation was started with FISHCOPFED to take IKSL's Value Added Services to fishermen through a pilot project in four districts of Khurda, Puri, Cuttack and Jagatsinghpur in July, 2012.

Encouraged by the initial experience, synergies and vast potential of business growth, both parties signed an MoU for extending cooperation in jointly serving the fishermen community at large within their expertise, he said.

IKSL-Odisha has also been jointly working with Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA), Kendrapara to create awareness of various state government and central schemes for the benefit of farmers, he added.