Reuters Market Light
|Industry||Agri Mobile VAS|
|Founded||October 1, 2007|
|Key people||Mr. Amit Mehra|
Reuters Market Light (RML) is a pioneering mobile phone-based agri information service provider. The service is designed to provide farmers with personalised timely and actionable agricultural information from pre-sowing to post-harvest stages through SMS on their mobile phones in their local language. About 1.2 million Indian farmers from an estimated 50,000 villages have used this service across 17 states. Through sharing among farmers, it is estimated to have reached 5 million farmers. RML covers over 450 crop and crop varieties and more than 1300 markets. With this service, individual farmers gained up to INR 200,000 ($ 4000) of additional profits, and savings of nearly INR 400,000 ($8000), marking a significant return on their investment.
The innovation began with the realization of the causes behind the poor state of millions of farmers around the developing world. The biggest realization was that this pain – both economic and emotional –must be addressed at an individual farmer level. RML, a business incubated by Thomson Reuters, was conceptualized as a one page idea in 2006 to address this need. Following nearly 18 months of market research, prototyping and market trials, RML was launched in October 1, 2007 in Maharashtra by Sharad Pawar, the union minister of agriculture of India followed by launch in Punjab in 2008 by Mr. Prakash Badal, state’s Chief Minister.
In 2013, Thomson Reuters teamed up with IvyCap Ventures Advisors Private Limited (IvyCap), a venture capital fund management company to support the continued development of Reuters Market Light (RML). IvyCap, which is backed by the IIT Alumni Network, is the lead investor in RML with Thomson Reuters remaining as a shareholder and partner in the newly formed RML Information Services Private Limited.
Addressing the farmers’ pain
RML addresses the pain of economic losses suffered by farmers and brings transparency and fairness to an underserved agri market. Farmers in India are highly dependent on the middlemen and a patchy network of ad hoc information sources such as local shop keepers who leverage the information asymmetry in the system to earn higher profits at the cost of the individual farmers. Addressing this aspect, RML delivers customised, localised and personalised weather forecasts, local crop prices, agricultural news and relevant information to them.
Products and Service
RML provides highly personalized content as per each farmer’s profile and crop cycle. The features of this service include:
- Crop Prices from markets of their choice
- Local Weather Forecasts
- Agri Info that impacts prices or costs
- Crop Advisory tips to improve productivity or reduce risk
- Available in 8 Languages
- Compliant with all telecom operators and handsets
- Delivery of local content
- Supports simple user interface
- Accessible over the counter
- Considers farmer’s individual preferences
- As per the stage of crop cycle
RML has an unprecedented financial and emotional impact on the farming community by helping them achieve better yields, secure better prices, and feel empowered vis-a-vis the strong middlemen community.
Firstly, it has empowered farmers with actionable information which enable them to take informed decisions and reduces their production and marketing risk thereby directly enhancing their livelihood According to ICRIER study conducted in 2009, RML users observed an increase in their income by 5-25%. Moreover, the 2011 USAID study stated that RML intervention led to enhanced price realization, farmers got around Rs 6 to 8 more per kg on their crop. Around 80% of the farmers have changed their information sourcing behavior. This service has helped many users in improving alignment of farm output to market demands, ensuring improved productivity and high quality of produce. World Bank also conducted a study in 2010, indicating that 8% increase in price realization to RML farmers who directly sold to traders.
Secondly, it has empowered farmers vis-à-vis the middlemen community and helped make the local markets more efficient. With RML, 12% reduction in price dispersion was observed across markets, comments London Business School study in 2010 / 11.
RML has been recognised nationally and internationally for positively contributing to the development at the bottom of the pyramid.
- Innovation for India Awards, 2014
Reuters Market Light service was awarded the "Innovation for India Award" by the Marico Innovation Foundation under the business category. The service was selected from over 430 entries on the basis of uniqueness, impact and sustainability post a rigorous evaluation process.
- NABARD Rural Innovation Award, 2012
RML Card was awarded the NABARD Rural Innovation Award, 2012 in the Private Sector – Agriculture & Allied Activities. RML was amongst the 12 winners out of 1470 entries and 30 nominees in the first-of-its-kind awards. The Award was conferred by Finance Minister, Rural Development Minister and Chairman NABARD.
- Financial Times & Justmeans Social Innovation Award, 2010
- Coffey International BIG TICK, 2010
- World Business and Development Award, 2010
RML won the World Business and Development Award (WBDA) in 2010 conferred by UNDP, ICC, and International Business Leaders Forum, in recognition of its efforts for contributing to improving the lives of India's farming community.
- The Manthan Award South Asia, 2010
Recognized for pioneering a mobile based information service for farming communities in villages across India 
- RMAI (Rural Marketing Association of India) Award, 2010
- World Economic Forum in Davos, 2011
The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos highlighted the benefits of this service, where farmers receive information on the price of specific crops at markets of their choice without having to travel.
- Accenture Report - 'Masters of rural markets: The Hallmarks of High Performance', 2010
In 2010, Accenture Report - 'Masters of rural markets: The Hallmarks of High Performance' featured RML as a case study along with other popular brands like Hero Honda, LG and Hindustan Unilever Limited.
- World Economic Forum in Cape Town, 2009
- The UNDP accolade, 2008
- London Business School case study
A case study on RML as a strategic business model innovation was developed by one of the world’s leading strategy guru, Professor Costas Markides. Registered with the European Case Clearing House (ECCH), it has been used in the Senior Executive Programs at London Business School.
- Cambridge University
RML was taught as a case study at the as part of the Business and Poverty Leadership Program
Mentions in Books
- RML featuring in Nandan Nilekani’s book ‘Imagining India’
- RML also featured in Prof. C.K. Prahalad's book - The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid
- The book talks about the RML service and how it impacts the farming community
- "Aid on mobile brings smile on farmers’ faces". Sakaal times. 20 September 2010.
- "India: Smart farming via Reuters mobile alerts". OneWorld South Asia.
- "Indian farmers given SMS aid". BBC. 6 May 2008.
- "Winners of 2010 World Business and Developemt Awards". International Chamber of Commerce.
- "Mobile phones transform life of India's poor". Financial Times. 18 January 2010.
- "Thomson Reuters partners IvyCap Ventures". Business Standard. February 25, 2013.
- "Speaker interview: David Craig". Guardian. 22 June 2010.
- "Reuters Market Light". itac.
- "Reuters Market Light". US AID.
- "Reuters Market Light: Creating Efficient Markets". Global Hand. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
- "Reuters Market Light: Business Model Innovation for Growth".
- "Innovation for India Awards Recognises the Best Innovations in the Country". Businesswire India. March 26, 2014.
- "NABARD Award for Rural Innovations - Celebrating the true innovators". Economic Times. October 25, 2012.
- "2010 Social Innovation Award Winners Named". Just Means. 25 March 2010.
- "Barclays & Guardian poverty partnership wins International Award". CSR 360. 6 July 2010.
- "Reuters Market Light, part of Thomson Reuters, wins prestigious World Business & Development Award". Think Change India. 18 November 2010.
- "Reuters Market Light Direct - INDIA". Manthan Award. 18 November 2010.
- "MBillionth Award: the winners of 2010". Live Mint. 26 July 2010.
- "Impact Communications leads the medal tally at third RMAI". afaqs!. 30 November 2010.
- "Learning from Davos". London Business School.