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Rediff.com  » Business » Airtel, IFFCO JV to target rural markets

Airtel, IFFCO JV to target rural markets

May 02, 2008 18:04 IST
Targeting 55 million farmers under the fold of IFFCO, telecom major Bharti Airtel on Friday announced a joint venture with it, in which the fertiliser cooperative holds majority stake.

In the joint venture -- IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Ltd – IFFCO will have the majority 50 per cent stake while Airtel and Star Global will have 25 per cent equity each, IKSL MD Rakesh Kapur said. Airtel has already enrolled over 48,000 farmers under this scheme.

Airtel has created a value added platform to offer free daily voice updates on mandi prices, farming techniques, weather forecasts and fertiliser availability to the farmers, Bharti Group chairman Sunil Mittal said.

About 40 per cent of our customers now come from rural areas. By 2010, the rural population is likely to touch 800 million and two-third of those will be prospective mobile users, he said, adding the rural market is worth Rs 40,000 crore (Rs 400 billion).

The value added platform 'Sanchar Hat' will be launched this month in Gujarat while next roll out would be in MP, Chhatisgarh and Maharashtra. At present, this is available in Punjab, Harayna, Rajasthan, UP, Tamil Nadu and Bihar, Kapur said, adding by the end of this fiscal, the scheme will cover the whole country.

Voice advices will be available in all local languages. The Indian farmer can look forward to the benefits of mobile telephony and internet. Mittal said in the next two years, Bharti Airtel will be country's top rural telecom brand.

"We feel there is a great opportunity in telecom sector going to rural India to create new businesses for the cooperatives where farmers are the key stakeholders," IFFCO managing director U S Awasthi said.

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