1. INTRODUCTION India has 56.6% of its population engaged in the field ofagricultural and allied activities (Census India 2011). Agriculture sector contributes 17% to the country’sGross Value Added (GVA) (Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & FarmersWelfare, 2017). Even though majority ofpeople are employed in agriculture related activities, contribution to the GDPby agricultural sector is only 17.4%, but higher than the world’s average of6.1% (Central Intelligence Agency, US, 2017).
India’s share in the global agricultural output is 7.68%, and placedsecond position in the world agricultural producers’ countries list(StatisticsTimes.com, 2017). The contribution of agricultural sector to theGDP has a decreasing trend, which is shown in the Fig.
1. (Planning Commission, Government of India,2014).Figure 1: Contribution toGDP of India by economic sectors from 1951 to 2013. With a large percentage of population employed in theagricultural sector and a decreasing trend in the contribution of agriculturesector to the total GDP means that the per capita income will not show theclear picture of the economic condition of the farmers and other peopleinvolved in the agriculture sector. Incomeearned by farmers is very less such that they cannot even withstand a badperiod for their crops. According to theNational Crime Records Bureau, Government of India, 9.4% of total suicidevictims (12,602 out of 1,33,623) are from farming sector in the year 2015,which stands second to the daily wages suicide victims (17.
8%). Maharashtra is the state which has largest farmersuicide victims (34.1%), followed by Karnataka (12.5%), Telangana (11.1%), MadhyaPradesh (10.2%), and Chhattisgarh (7.
6%) (National Crime Records Bureau,Government of India, 2015). This higherrate of farmer’s suicide is attributed to bankruptcy or indebtedness andfarming related issues. Central andState Government have taken many steps to curb farmer’s suicides, which includeMinimum Support Price (MSP) for the crops and loan waiver. These measures are only temporary and do notencourage farmers to continue their profession in agriculture sector. More and more farmers are now leaving thefarming jobs and shifting to daily wage jobs, especially in the constructionsector.
Reports of farmers destroying theirown crops are also common nowadays. Thisis due to the main fact that farmers are not getting right price for theircrops or produce. Fresh vegetables liketomatoes, cauliflower, coriander leaves and brinjal are used by villagers andfarmers to feed cattle, because of low price for these vegetable crops. (Deep’s article, 2017). Government of India had established the Agricultural andProcessed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) under the Agriculturaland Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Act, passed by theParliament in December, 1985. This actcame in to effect from 13th February 1986. The authority is under Ministry of Commerceand Industry, Government of India. APEDAhas the responsibility of export promotion of fruits, vegetables and otheragricultural products.
It also coversother products like dairy products, meat and meat products etc. Since its inception APEDA has carried outmany activities in increasing the export of agricultural products and other items. It has promoted export based production, andfor this many training programmes were also conducted to improve the productionto meet the international standards. Inorder to provide market intelligence for the Indian exporters and entrepreneursabout the global market, an online trade portal – Agri Exchange, was started (http://agriexchange.
apeda.gov.in/). Trade leads both buy and sell are availablefree of cost.
Once registered as memberin the portal, one can respond (offer or submit) to these leads and can buy orsell items through this portal. (Agricultural& Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, 2015) Agri Exchange portal gives market access to more than 200countries and territories. The portalgives statistical data related to approximately 612 products related to APEDAand also host data related to products that do not come under the purview ofAPEDA. These statistical data arederived from various reliable sources like UN Comtrade, Food and AgriculturalOrganisation (FAO), Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence andStatistics (DGCIS). The portal has givenits shape with a joint collaboration with United Nations Conference on Tradeand Development (UNCTAD) and Ministry of Agriculture. If farmers obtain a fair price for theirproduce, farmers’ unrest and suicide can be reduced. Agri Exchange portal is now utilized by thecompanies and traders to import and export the various products. If a good platform for farmers or cooperativesocieties/organizations of farmers is given, they can trade their producethrough this portal.
As such the portalwill not be friendly for the farmers. Agood negotiation support system (NSS) in the Agri Exchange for farmers willenable farmers to directly trade through the portal. The proposed project is aiming to build an e-negotiationsystem (ENS) for farmers to execute trade directly and obtain a very good pricefor their produce. 2. LITERATUREREVIEW During 1970’s the need for a dedicated computerizednegotiation system was recognized, which paved the way for the evolution ofseparate class of specialized software – Negotiation Support System (Nyhart andGoeltner, 1987). A negotiation supportsystem (NSS) should have all the capabilities of decision support system (DSS)and also facilitate good communication between the negotiators (Lim andBenbasat, 1992). A negotiation supportsystem (NSS) can be defined as a software that implements models andprocedures, which has facilities for communication and coordination, anddesigned to support two or more parties and or a third party (Lim and Benbasat,1992; Holsapple et al.
, 1995). Theinternet revolution has transformed the standalone NSS to e-negotiation system(ENS) which employed internet technologies and the systems are deployed on webfor the purpose of facilitating and / or automating activities taken bynegotiators (Bichler et al., 2003). ENSconsists of several tools embedded in an environment or work bench whichprovides the negotiators virtual space to undertake the negotiationactivities. This virtual bargainingtable is termed as e-negotiation table (Strobel, 2003). Software agent technologies are also usedwidely in negotiation facilitation, support and automation. Two types of such systems are commonly used –Negotiation Software Agent (NSA) and Negotiation Agent-Assistant (NAA). NSA is software that will act on behalf ofits human or artificial principal and will conduct the major part of thenegotiation (Kraus, 1995).
NAA issoftware designed to provide human or third party negotiator support, critiqueand timely and context specific advices (Chen et al., 2004). NSS for the farmersshould be able to provide lots of information. These information include demand for their products in various countriesand territories and their import tariffs. The price of their product is also another important data that farmerswant to know. Some of the products likeseeds, fertilizers etc have derived demand and will depend up on thecommodities farmers will produce. Properestimation of speculative demand of the products is also important for thefarmers while using the NSS. Demandelasticities like own-price, cross-price and income elasticities should also beconsidered during negotiations.
Spatialprice relationships are other set of factors which are significant to theagricultural products. (Tomek andKaiser, 2014). Government of India, in the year 2003, amended the AgriculturalProduce Markets Act (APMC). Thisamendment provides the farmers with the freedom of selling their product todirect users or any other agencies other than the regulated market.
This has evolved the idea of direct marketingwhich avoids the mediation of private companies. Studies conducted in the three states –Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Punjab have shown that the direct marketing can be verysuccessful and improved the market efficiency. Assam and Punjab were using farmers’ societies and other organizationsin the direct marketing while in Andhra Pradesh it was directly marketed to theconsumer. The study suggests thatserious short coming in such type of marketing is lack of training to thefarmers which has badly affected to maintain the customer relationship as wellas other aspects such as lack of infrastructural support for grading,assessments of product quality and sorting. (Ghosh, 2013).
When a NSS isdeveloped these factors also should be considered for the success of the systemas well as gaining acceptance among the farmer community. 3. NEEDFOR e-NEGOTIATION SYSTEM (ENS) IN AGRI EXCHANGE The Agri Exchange portal is designed insuch a way that only traders and companies can use it properly for the trading. The portal has many important information invarious pull down menus. Farmers who arenot well trained won’t be able to use these menus by themselves to do a goodtrading through this portal.
AgriExchange can use these vital information in developing a good ENS that can beused by the farmers. Farmers are giventhe freedom for direct marketing, but to taut this benefit to the farmers,assistance should be provided by the Government to the farmers. Introduction of ENS in Agri Exchange would beone of such initiative that will help farmers in executing the direct marketingthrough the channel of Agri Exchange. ENS can be reserved for farmers and farmers’ cooperative societies/organizations. Since India is a land with variety oflanguages, for the successful ENS, language barriers of the farmers need to beaddressed. AGMARKNET of the Ministry ofAgriculture and Farms Welfare links approximately 7000 regulated markets spreadacross the country in order to collect market related information and pricesacross the country (Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government ofIndia, 2017). This information can beused by the Agri Exchange in the proposed ENS so that it give proper advice tothe farmers regarding whether exporting is profitable or not.
4. PROPOSEDe-NEGOTIATION SYSTEM (ENS) IN AGRI EXCHANGE Acomputer-supported e-negotiation support system is more suitable for thefarmers or cooperative society using the Ari Exchange (Kersten and Lai, 2008). Such a system will more appropriate forfarmers since they may not be well equipped with negotiations in internationalmarket places. Proactive system is moresuitable for the proposed e-Negotiation system, as this system is able toaccess and process knowledge available in the various databases provided by theAPEDA (Kersten and Lai, 2008). Toachieve proactive ENS, the four kinds of software (NSS, ENT, NSA and NAA) andDSS to support individual negotiations will be using different models fromdecision sciences, MS/OR an artificial intelligence. Figure 2 shows the different software systemsin the ENS.Figure 2: Software systemsin negotiation facilitation, support and automation(Source: Kersten, G.
E. and H.Lai. 2008. p.
473) 4.1 ARCHITECTUREA loosely coupled federatedarchitecture is more suitable for the proposed ENS (Kersten and Lai,2008). Users of the system may beperforming some specific tasks such as translating a document and do the analysison financial information. In such asituation users may directly access the specific system in the federated systemand perform the required tasks. Thistype flexibility is not available in the traditionally tightly coupledsystem. The architecture for theproposed ENS is shown in the Fig. 3.
Thecomponents in the ENS can be implemented using the client-server architecture,where client and server represent different tiers (Kersten and Lai, 2008). In Fig. 3 three negotiators A, B and C are shownas an example doing negotiations simultaneously. These negotiators can be either farmers or farmers’co-operative societies/organizations. Allthe negotiators use the client, here they are using the web browser provided bythe Agri Exchange. Negotiators A and B aredirectly communicating with the ENT and carrying out the negotiationprocess.
For assisting thesenegotiations the Agri-Exchange can provide the assistance to the negotiators byway of providing a NSS. The NSS canprovide the farmers/negotiators with important information like import tariffs,international prices, country profiles etc. This can be easily achieved as APEDA is already having a huge databaseof these important information and are periodically updating. The farmers would also want details regardinginformation regarding cold storage availability and logistics needed for theshipment. Other services like sourcingof seeds, harvesting, storages, water treatment/ softening plant, barcodelabels and scanners, machinery services etc are also required by the farmersfor the final shipment of their products. Already Agri Exchange has good database for these services which can beutilized for developing a successful ENS. These important services can be given in the form of NSS in the proposedENS. Figure 3: Proposed ENSArchitecture Negotiator B even though directlycommunicating with ENT it takes help from a NAA.
NAA in the proposed system can giveassistance in the areas like other parties credibility in the trade andprocess. Thus NAA act as an analyst andexpert. The NAA may be using big-dataanalytics in establishing the credibility and other measures. Thus negotiator B is given better servicethan the other negotiator. Negotiator Cis not directly communicating to the ENT, instead it uses the NSA to performthe negotiation activities. This type ofNSA is important because farmers in India may find it difficult to communicatein English. So NSA can act on behalf ofthe farmers and do the major part of the negotiation.
4.2 CONFIGURATIONIn the proposed ENS thenegotiators can be farmers or organizations, a flexible configuration should beincorporated in the ENS. The most widelyused individual support with the use of DSS, NAA or some software tool can beused in the proposed system. Majorthrust will be on this type of configuration as farmers during initialimplementation period will prefer this type of configuration.
Sometimes it will be beneficial for farmersin trading if a coalition is formed with other farmers or societies duringnegotiation process. In order establishsuch coalitions, decision and negotiation support system should be provided toa subset of negotiators. When NSA areinvolved in the negotiations, the system should be flexible enough to supportboth partial and fully automated negotiation process. Third party involvement may also be needed insome situation where the configuration should be able to handle decentralizednegotiation process. 5. EXPECTEDOUTCOME FROM ENS FOR AGRI EXCHANGE The proposed project’s expectedoutcome is to reduce the farmers’ unrest and suicide rates by introducing a newopportunity for farmers in finding a better price for their produce.
While developing the ENS the other partyconsideration should also be taken in to account, so that the process ofnegotiation is truly professional. Thesuccess probability of the ENS can be increased if this facility is linked withother Government initiative such as Kisan Suvidha app, APEDA farmer connect,mkisan app etc. These mobile apps arealready popular with the farmers. Farmers are already using toll free numbers provided by Kisan CallCenter (KCC) for clarifying doubts related to farming issues. If this call center facility is alsoutilized, trade link details (Buy or Sell lead) can be communicated to thefarmers rapidly.
Hence the existence ofsuch ENS and its benefits can be communicated to the farmers. Building confidence among the farmers will bea major issue in the success of ENS. Forthis training program among farmers should be carried out. High production of the agriculture productionis due to the hard work of farmers and availability of natural resources. Government has to take necessary measures sothat farmers efforts are not in vein. TheENS for Agri Exchange will be one of such measures that will ensure farmers getfair price for their produce.
It willnot be able completely solve the problem of increasing rate of suicide amongfarmers, but it can be one of the ways of reducing this rate. There are other factors also which are thecauses for farmers suicide. These issueshave to be addressed separately.