Cellphone Gives India’s Traditional Sardine Fishermen Bargaining Power

Michael Giberson

Kevin Sullivan, writing in the Washington Post, delivers a fantastic story about how the spread of cellphones among traditional fishermen in India has reshaped the industry:

Rajan said that before he got his first cellphone a few years ago, he used to arrive at port with a load of fish and hope for the best. The wholesaler on the dock knew that Rajan’s un-iced catch wouldn’t last long in the fiery Indian sun. So, Rajan said, he was forced to take whatever price was offered — without having any idea whether dealers in the next port were offering twice as much.

Now he calls several ports while he’s still at sea ….

Rajan said the dealers don’t necessarily like the new balance of power, but they are paying better prices….

The story also mentions how farmers in remote areas can snap photos of diseased crops using their camera phones and get advice from distant specialists on how to cure the problems. Farmers also use cellphones to access internet-based price services telling them how much is being paid for their products in world commodity markets. In the cities, housepainters and plumbers — and the homeowners who need their services — have found it easier to connect because of cellphones.