In his case study, “Mobile Phones and Economic Development: Evidence from the Fishing Industry in India,” Reuben Abraham highlights how mobile phones have affected the fishing industry in India. In sum, the case study finds that there are substantial benefits to the industry, from the fishermen all the way to the consumers.
For the fishermen, these phones can greatly enhance working conditions as they are able to stay in touch with other fishermen, which provides a feeling of safety and information on where to find large schools of fish. Other tangible benefits for the fishermen include being able to know current market prices, to reduce time and fuel inefficiency, and to fish according to the market demand, thereby cutting unnecessary extra effort. In addition, the boat owners are able to have better information as to the whereabouts and condition of their expensive investments, so they stand less risk than without having any information about their boats.
Some others in the fishing supply chain benefit even more than the fishermen – the middlemen. The commission agents and merchants had less to lose than others in the supply chain before the presence of mobile telephones; however, these individuals are more certain as to the timing of when supply can meet demand and can essentially control market prices more than ever before. That being said, even the consumers benefit because they are able to know where to find what products they need and pay less with more market efficiency.
Overall, there are few negative consequences with the arrival of mobile telephones in the fishing industry. Mobile phones may increase vulnerability to corruption, harassment, and unethical practices from any of the supply chain participants to other supply chain participants. These incidents, however, are somewhat rare, and do not greatly reduce the benefits of mobile telephone availability in the fishing industry.
One of the most interesting parts of this case study is realizing that no development project or initiative introduced the fishing industry to mobile telephones. It was a natural occurrence and showed to be very successful mainly because the “beneficiaries” adopted the technology they themselves needed – they found something to meet their own needs. The case study was just a tool to help determine whether such an occurrence could be artificially recreated in another location to produce the same benefits.