Ghana-based GODAN partner Esoko has illustrated how mobile phones can be used to allow farmers and buyers to receive open data information for more fair pricing and improved access to markets, based on customer feedback.
Seeing that prices were being collected on a national scale but that the rural farmers who needed them didn’t have access, TradeNet was born as the technology solution to collect and share market prices via SMS.
The open data is obtained through existing channels such as weather data, farmers and partners such as FAO and is utilized for a self sustainable business model that combines farmers, markets/dealers, phone companies, and other basic technology for an open system that benefits hundreds of thousands of families.
The original idea used ‘antennas’ to collect the selling price of basic commodities produced by farmers, as well as input prices such as seeds or fertilizers, and send this information daily to the farmers (through SMS) in order to help them bring down their input costs. This increased their selling profit margin through the use of market information now made available to them.
This model has demonstrated a net increase of at least 11% for farmers, from the use of the daily prices info they receive.
So far more than 350,000 farmers have joined Esoko in 10 countries in Africa.
Daily messages sent now exceed 9.5 million, covering 170 markets1.
Esoko began as a small, non profit initiative when in 2005 its future CEO travelled to Uganda with the encouragement of FAO to better understand how technology could improve communication with farmers.
It started small, covering only a few of the farmers in Ghana. Subsequently Esoko expanded its range of services (available to farmers for a symbolic monthly subscription), to also provide ag advice using data available from weather sites and other sources. Farmers now know better when it is the best time to plant, harvest or what kind of infestation by pests and diseases may be at risk for the coming season – and how to address it.
For more information you can follow Esoko on Twitter at @Esoko
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