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Digital solutions bring hope to farmers in Ethiopia


02 July 2012

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Farmers in Ethiopia will soon be able to receive information on market prices for their products, the weather forecast, or availability of fertilisers with a simple text message.This will be made possible by The Farmers Market System, a database with a mobile component, which will give users all information they seek through different user interfaces.

Agricultural workers in Ethiopia such as farmers and researchers came together in Addis Ababa to discuss a farmers market information system (FMIS). This system will include a text message information service for farmers in Ethiopia’s Oromia province.

Purpose of the workshops was to identify the needs of several actors in the agriculture field such as farmers, farmers unions, agricultural experts and traders and suppliers of cultivation products. The meeting also allowed the agriculture workers to classify their requirements on the features of the farmers market information system. The system will be built by Ethiopian mobile technology company Apposit LLC with the support of Connect4Change consortium members IICD, Texttochange and ICCO and Dutch ICT company 1Zero.

The Farmers Market Information System will function as a database with a mobile component, giving its users all the information they seek, in different user interfaces, adjusted to their needs.

Field visits in local farmers market organisations, indicated that more than 50 per cent of the farmers in the Oromia Region make use of mobile phones and value this use in their daily life. Through the FMIS, the farmers will be able to receive information on market prices for their products, the weather forecast, or availability of fertilisers with a simple text message. In addition to this, they will be provided with solar mobile chargers to facilitate them, as at the moment, every time they need to charge their phones, they are forced to visit the nearest village on a market day and pay an amount of money to have it charged.

Farmers market organisations and unions will use the Farmers Market Information System to aggregate data from individual farmers about what and how many products they grow. With these data, they will be able to analyse and monitor the production of agricultural goods in their area.

The Farmers Information System will also be used by traders and suppliers of cultivation products to retrieve information on which products are being cultivated and provide the farmers with the necessary market information or products such as fertilisers suitable to their crop.

In the first phase, the Farmers Market Information System will be used by 16500 farmers in the Oromia Region, with the possibility to upscale it to other provinces. The system will be developed by the Ethiopian mobile technology company Apposit LLC with the support of IICD and fellow Connect4change members, ICCO and Texttochange, as well as with the support of 1Zero.

 
Source : IICD

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