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How small-scale farmers can link to buyers using mobile phone and internet

Knowledge is power, and agriculture is no exception.

Mobile phones and the Internet are strengthening the bargaining power of smallholder farmers, whose biggest headache is often how to sell their produce for a decent price. Producers working without good market intelligence are easy prey for dishonest traders; ill-informed and helpless, they are often forced into accepting the lowest offer, especially if they have travelled to take their goods to the market.

Access to computers and mobile phones can help farmers' groups to launch direct marketing campaigns. E-commerce offers opportunities to advertise to a larger audience and sell direct to customers. For example:

In Kenya,

A farmer can subscribe to SMS alerts on daily prices of a given commodity. Even better, he can find out who is looking for products like his, and make the deal before he leaves his farm.



Kenya Agricultural Commodities Exchange uses Safaricom SMS platform to link farmers to buyers, they also organise transport of the produce.



Others include 'Farmers club' where subscription is via sending a message to 6426. It allows members, agro-delears and producers get access and share information nationwide. Other clubs include Angaza Mazao which gives members access to crop production finance and arranging for crop insurance, Uza-Mazao which will connect small-scale farmers with willing buyers. M-Farm and iCow mobile based application that help farmers track their produce.

Ministry of Agriculture and Kenya seed company registration is via sending a message to 2964 and 3000 respectively, helps farmers authenticate seeds and fertilizer stockists.

In Tanzania: The Uluguru Mountains is enabling women farmers to access up-to-date market information.

In Uganda: Uganda's rural information systems, which uses ICTs to distribute information on agricultural commodity markets. It has developed a Train-the -Trainer system so that farmers can make the best use of the service.

In South Africa: The Makuleke Project has set up a virtual trading facility installed on mobile phones so that farmers can sell their produce direct. mFarmer is an initiative fund that encourages the use of mobile communication and advisory services to small scale farmers. The Fund supports projects implemented in India and Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Nigeria, Mali, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia.

In Senegal: The Xam Marse service provides information on the prices and availability of fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry at all the country's markets.

In Ghana: The Eastern Corridor Agriculture Market Information Centre uses mobile phones to transmit market information to several community-based farmers' cooperatives.

In Benin: InfoPrix offers market prices of the most important staple foods through short text message.

Other smart marketing options include:



Esoko, enables countries to access market information by mobile phone.





Livestock Information network and Knowledge System (LINKS): Provides livestock prices on most major markets in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania using sms, emails and Internet.

Linking Local Learners (LLL): It links all those involved in the supply chain that is farmers, buyers, transporters, traders and retailers. LLL is developing the use of Market Access Companies (MACs) in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The MACs are commercial initiatives but users only pay for the service if a deal goes through.


Africa Crop Calender, enables farmers, extension workers and private sector to select seeds of well, locally adapted crop varieties at the appropriate sowing and planting season. It is a web-based tool, developed by experts in the UN Food and FAO, covers more than 130 crops.

 

Kilimo Salama, is a system that uses mobile phone technology that links solar-powered weather stations to UPA insurance company, Safaricom and Syngenta Foundation. It enables the small-scale farmers cover the costs of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides by paying an extra 5% of their value, thus, insuring their agricultural inputs against harsh weather conditions such as drought or floods.



M-farm, is an application that links markets and farmers. It enables farmers to group together through their mobiles phones to offer big retailers such as supermarkets large quantities of crops. Therefore, making farmers save on the costs of inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides by buying in bulk.

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  1. Hi its really very nice blog,very useful information..Mobiles

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