This is certainly good use of technology – providing farmers with information via SMS instead of PC kiosks.
Sean Blagsvedt and Rajesh Veeraraghavan of Microsoft Research India (blog) explain –
We replaced the client PCs with SMS enabled phones. On the server, we attached a smart phone through USB to their PC server. So, we effectively have an SMS gateway that receives incoming SMS messages and converts into database calls and the response was also converted to an SMS message and the result sent back to the phone that sent it. The authentication was through the SIM card (essentially the phone number).
With widespread mobile phone usage in the developing world, smart solutions like these might effectively replace PCs as we know them and open up a market for “smart” phones and other “sub-PC” devices.