ICT for Development Case Studies Series
I. Market Access and Pricing
- From conception to replication
Today, using FrontlineSMS, their pilot project is distributing prices from five large buyers to about 150 farmers, village leaders and farmers groups by SMS in a classic “market transparency” intervention. And it’s working. Prices are going up for farmers, and the buyers are getting access to more quantity and better quality. Prices are collected via phone once a week and within ten minutes are entered into FrontlineSMS and sent out. The project has been successfully running for several months.
- Closing the divide with the humble phone
CellBazaar targets a perennial problem in developing countries: market access. Bad road conditions and poor communications make it difficult for farmers in rural areas to get to the nearest market, which is the only way to get actual market information, says Syed Yamin Bahkt, Grameenphone spokesperson. “The result is that isolated and uninformed farmers and traders have little bargaining power, which is exploited by middlemen,” he said. CellBazaar provides a way to access market info and bypass middlemen by going direct to the buyer.
- Receiving market prices by SMS
‘Xam Marsé’, or ‘Know your market’, is the Wolof name for the agricultural market information system (MIS) developed and operated by Manobi, in conjunction with Sonatel, since 2001. With Xam Marsé, Senegalese farmers, traders, hoteliers or housewives can now receive real-time information via SMS messages on their mobile phone, or the web, on the prices and availability of fruit, vegetables, meat and poultry, on any of Senegal’s markets.
- Mobile phones and (fish) market performance in Kerala
In an empirical study conducted in fish markets along the coast of Kerala (South India), Robert Jensen found that the introduction of the mobile phone allowed improved flow of price information that resulted in a more efficient functioning of the market.
- Italians dial up best food price
Thanks to a short message service (SMS) text system set up jointly by the Italian agriculture ministry and consumer associations, shoppers can check the average price of different foods in northern, central and southern Italy.
- Market Data, Far From the Market
Reuters is testing a program called Reuters Market Light for several months in Maharashtra, India’s third-largest state, about the size of Italy. The state is one of India’s prominent agricultural centers, with farmers growing onions, oranges, corn, soybeans, wheat and bananas. But the farmers’ business suffers from the difficulty of comparing prices from one market to another. Reuters has dispatched about 60 market reporters to the region to report on the going price for, say, oranges or onions, and to package the data into a text message that is sent to subscribers.
- Africa’s cellphone explosion changes economics, society
Amina Harun, a 45-year-old farmer, used to traipse around for hours looking for a working pay phone on which to call the markets and find the best prices for her fruit. Then cellphones changed her life.
- Mobiles find right price for farmers
Senegalese market traders are proving that the technology does have its uses thanks to a project run by Manobi, a joint venture run by French and Senegalese entrepreneurs. Manobi uses teams to gather information about the prices of foods and goods being sold in the markets in and around Dakar.
- Tanzania: Mobile Phones Benefit Fishing Community
Tanzanian fishermen have benefited a great deal from the use of mobile phones in doing business with local communities. A study conducted by two students from Upsalla University, Sweden, in collaboration with the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT), has concluded that the use of mobile phones has improved the livelihood of the fishermen who had hitherto no reliable means of communication.
- Trading commodities via SMS
Lack of access to reliable and up-to-date market price information is a serious problem for smallholder farmers across Africa. Without this information, they are vulnerable to unscrupulous traders giving them prices at below-market rates. Furthermore, they are reluctant to diversify into different cash crops for fear of not finding a profitable market for their output. IFAD-supported Smallholder Enterprise and Marketing Programme (SHEMP) in Zambia introduced an innovative way to address this problem. Under its agribusiness component (one of three components, alongside road access and group formation), it put in place an SMS Market Information Service in cooperation with the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU). The service provides up-to-date market prices, listing buyers for 12 major commodities in a cost-effective, accessible and reliable manner.
- Feasibility Study for SMS-enabled Collection and Delivery of Rural Market Information
This study assessed the feasibility of using SMS technology to collect and disseminate agricultural market information to improve the profitability of small farms and rural enterprises. Several international case studies of SMS-based Market Information Services (MIS) were reviewed. The MIS are typically made up of multiple partners generating multiple information products that are disseminated through multiple media channels, of which SMS is one. Most MIS are operated with private sector involvement but only one was reported to be financially self-sustaining from user fees. Increases in farm income resulting from improved information access are generally reported as very high (ranging between 5% and 400%).
If you know of other interesting case studies or projects in this area, please add a short description and link in the comment form below. Thanks.