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Monday, 5 November 2007

SMS powered agriculture....

A while back I shared a paper by Jensen that demonstrated how fishermen in Kerala, India are using mobile phones to dial out poverty. Well now Zambian farmers are using SMS to search for better prices. Read more here. Incidentally it is a fascinating example of how technology can help deal with the challenges of isolated settlements.

Until the [SMS] system was put in place, farmers had very little knowledge about market prices and had to sell their crop to intermediary buyers at prices often well below market rates. With the new system, they can request the latest market price being sent via SMS for any given commodity. Within seconds they receive information on best prices and the best buyers in a specified province or district. The SMS service, which costs $0.15 for each message, enables farmers to compare prices and selected buyers to start trading.“The system is very accessible for small farmers because mobile phone technology is cheap. A SIM card cost $1 here, and a telephone about $25. If they can’t afford a phone, they borrow their friends’,” explained Gibson Kapili, in charge of the programme’s contract management and procurement.

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