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Mobile apps for farmers to gain access to markets

21 July 2014

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A 2013 study entitled Market in their Palms conclusively shows that the use of mobile apps by smallholder farmers in Kenya has helped them to gain access to markets and market information and improved their businesses.

Agriculture plays a key role in reducing poverty. The World Bank’s World Development Report 2008 estimated that growth in the agricultural sector is twice as effective in reducing poverty in developing countries as growth in other sectors. Commercialising smallholder farmers’ production by introducing ICTs would give them better access to markets and boost growth in the agricultural sector.   

In Kenya, agriculture is the mainstay of the country’s economy. According to the Kenyan government’s 2009 Agricultural Sector Development Strategy, agriculture accounts directly for 24% of the country’s GDP and another 27% indirectly as a result of business with the service, manufacturing and distribution sectors. Agriculture is responsible for 65% of Kenya’s total export revenue, and in rural areas it provides work for over 80% of the population. These figures make agriculture the single-most important sector for Kenya’s general economic and rural development.  

One of the most persistent problems for smallholders in Kenya’s agricultural sector is accessing information and markets, which prevents them from pushing through commercialisation. But attempts are being made to tackle these problems through the introduction of ICTs, such as mobile phones, the internet and mobile phone applications.  

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