Tag Archives: Agriculture-infosystem

How mobile phones are transforming African agriculture? Why can’t we in Pakistan?

23 Jan

First of all I was much much surprised about the maturity of mobile based agriculture services in Africa. Although I knew some of application using  mobile phones for agricultural   information delivery in Africa. I have recenlty gone through an article on http://www.howwemadeitinafrica.com  named as “How mobile phones are transforming African agriculture” . It contains the review of all the successful mobile phone based services operating in Africa.  After reading the article I am much much motivated that we  in  Pakistan can also transform our agriculture through the mobile phone based services.  It needs only some sincere efforts from Government and Private Sector both. There is no rocket science in  technology required for this purpose.  I have already developed system for this purpose but I need co-operation from some agriculture expert to make a successful bussiness plan. I already have a business plan but needs some consultation.

I am pasting here the same article. I have copied it only for the purpose awarness in this area in Pakistan.

Mobile phone technologies are presenting Africa’s smallholder farmers with an unprecedented opportunity to run their operations more productively and to grow their own income levels.

Ghana-based service Esoko sends farmers crop prices and supplies directly to their phones.

Ghana-based market information service Esoko provides farmers with crop prices directly to their phones.

Private companies, budding IT entrepreneurs, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as governments are all involved in a variety of mobile phone-based products, services and applications (small software programmes that users can access on their handsets) aimed at boosting small-scaleagriculture.

Market information systems

One of the largest challenges traditionally experienced by Africa’s smallholder farmers has been a lack of transparent information about the market prices of crops. A number of new mobile phone-based services is, however, addressing this problem by giving farmers access to market prices, enabling them to negotiate better deals with traders and improve the timing of getting their crops to market. These services typically include a function where famers can send a SMS text message to a specific number which then gives them wholesale and retail prices of crops.

Mobile-based market information systems have been around for a while. According to a document published by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), some of the first services were launched as early as 2002. The success of these earlier services has, however, been haphazard, largely because of lower mobile penetration rates at that stage as well as a lack of a viable business plans behind many of the projects. “A lot of the projects are donor funded and they haven’t got a viable business model on the other end. Once the funding runs out the ability to sustain the project or . . . application disappears,” says Matthew de Gale, ICT services manager at the Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT), an organisation also involved in developing mobile applications for farmers.

New generation of services

The explosion of mobile phones on the African continent and much reduced data costs, has led to the development of improved products for farmers.

One of the most successful technologies is arguably the Esoko service developed by Ghana-based BusyLab. Orginally established in 2005 as TradeNet, the company was rebranded as Esoko in 2009, operating on a new platform with a broader set of tools. In addition to providing access to market prices, farmers and traders can also place buy/sell orders. Esoko has attracted investment from the International Finance Corporation, the Soros Economic Development Fund and well-known Silicon Valley engineer Jim Forster. Through a variety of partnership agreements, the company currently has a presence in ninecountries on the continent.

“I think the potential to transform value chains and market access through mobile is enormous,” Forster said at the time of announcing his investment. “I believe this doesn’t need to be about aid in the sense we know it now. Here’s a local company building an innovative product to meet a local need and selling it in a profitable way. That’s how I want to see Africa develop its own markets and capacities, and that’s why I decided to support Esoko.”

Many of the new applications go beyond merely providing farmers with market information. Kenya’s M-Farm, developed by an all-girl team of developers, allows farmers to group together through their mobile phones to offer exporters and big retailers large quantities of crops. Farmers connected through M-Farm can also save on the cost of inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides by buying in bulk.

Earlier this month, in Ghana, the pilot phase of a programme called CocoaLink was launched by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), chocolate manufacturer The Hershey Company and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF). The programme uses mobile technology to connect cocoa farmers with useful information about improving farming practices, farm safety, crop disease prevention, post-harvest production and crop marketing. Through voice and SMS messages delivered in their local language or English, cocoa farmers will receive the information at no charge. They also will be able to share information and receive answers to specific questions relating to their cocoa farming livelihoods.

In the area of livestock, SANGONeT is involved with an application that allows small-scale dairy farmers in East Africa to record the lactation history of their cows. This allows farmers to increase the sale price of their animals.

Access to insurance

Mobile phones are also being used to distribute agricultural insurance products to farmers, most of whom cannot afford conventional insurance. A product called Kilimo Salama, Swahili for ‘safe agriculture’, enables smallholder farmers in Kenya to insure their agricultural inputs against adverse weather conditions, such as drought or too much rain. Developed by UAP Insurance, the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and mobile operator Safaricom, Kilimo Salama allows smallholder farmers to insure as little as one kilogramme of maize, seed or fertiliser. To be covered under the scheme, farmers only need to pay an extra 5% for a bag of seed, fertiliser or other inputs.

Mobile technology plays a central role in the scheme as it is used both for registration of new policies as well as for payouts. Kilimo Salama is distributed mostly through agro dealers that have been equipped with a camera phone that scans a special bar code at the time of purchase, which immediately registers the policy with UAP Insurance over Safaricom’s mobile data network. This innovative application then sends a SMS message confirming the insurance policy to the farmer’s handset. Payouts are determined by automated weather stations that monitor the rainfall. Based on the stations’ measurements and a predefined formula of crop rainfall needs, payouts are automatically made to farmers using Safaricom’s mobile money transfer service M-PESA. Farmers don’t have to fill out any claim forms. Since its official launch in 2010, the scheme has already made payouts to numerous farmers. Other insurance companies have since also introduced similar products.

It is expected that products like Kilimo Salama will increase productivity since only about half of Kenyan farmers invest in improved seeds and soil inputs. A key reason for the low demand is the fear among farmers that poor conditions, such as drought, will render their investment worthless, robbing them of both their crops and their savings.

“This ‘pay as you plant’ type insurance allows farmers to try out insurance, a product they have never bought before and which has a negative reputation in Kenya,” said the Syngenta Foundation in a statement. “Experience shows that as farmers learn to trust insurance, they expand their coverage and are comfortable investing more in their farm, raising their productivity and increasing their food security.”

I invite all the agricultural professional to co-operate with us regarding the development of such services in Pakistan. I must mention that agriculture Pakistan have great opportunities for “Entreprenurship”. Some come out to help Pakistan and raise our standards of livings.

Contact Me: +92-345-7055195

Email: mahtabrasheed195@gmail.com

References : here

Agriculture Marketing Information Service (AMIS) in Punjab Pakistan

18 Jan

As I have already emphasized on the importance of the use of IT (Information Technology) in  agriculture Pakistan for

1-Awareness of the farmer from cultivation to harvesting

2-Marketing of the crops afterwards

We have developed a mobile phone based information system for the farmers which use SMS as medium of communication. Our system focuses on the cheap delivery of the useful information for  farmers including seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and weather. We were unable to market our system. Although we wanted to work extend this system.

 

Now I am very glad that Punjab Government jointly with Punjab Information Technology Board  Agriculture Marketing Information Service (AMIS).

Purpose of Agriculture Marketing Information Service (AMIS) is to disseminate prices of agriculture commodities prices from 135 markets located across the province of Punjab. In 2010, Agriculture Department of Punjab decided to enhance the service by collecting international agricultural commodity prices and publishing these prices on AMIS. Exchange of Information across international exchanges and internal market places will enable AMIS to gain comparative analysis of local and international commodity prices and will also provide benefit to traders, exporters and other stakeholders. All the enhancements in AMIS have been made live effective 15th June, 2011.

Salient Features

  • Real time conversion of international commodity prices from U.S Dollars and Indian Rupee to Pak Rupee.
  • Storing closing prices of all agricultural commodities for historical reporting.
  • Improved reporting (tabular and graphical) of international commodity prices.
  • Publishing international commodity prices in Urdu language.

You can access AMIS here

 

It is very positive development in Pakistan. These type of systems and services are already working effectively in the World. Hope that this project may not victim of government inefficiency and dishonesty.

 

Some of my text is copied here

In next coming posts I will deeply go through the features and benefits of this AMIS.

Mobile Phones based Agricultural Information Systems

7 Nov

Many systems have been developed for the purpose of sending agricultural information from agricultural advisories/institutions to farmers. Few of them have been shown to work efficiently and have resulted in helping the farmers. Some of the systems that were developed in order to facilitate the farmers are given below:

1.     SAPA MOBILE

SAPA Mobile is a mobile-based full functional supply chain and information management system. It integrates large numbers of smallholder farmers (small holder farmers are those farmers who own or cultivate less than 2.0 hectare of land) into commercial supply chains facilitating mutually beneficial partnerships between smallholder farmers and exporters/buyers. It also provides technical information, and recommends best practices to smallholder farmers in real time. This application was used in Sukabumi, West Java, Serdang Bedagai, and North Sumatera regions.

2.     NOKIA LIFE TOOLS (NOKIA, 2009)

Nokia life tools are the services developed for agriculture, education and entertainment which were available in local languages. These services were used in India and Indonesia and were only available on Nokia Phones.Nokia life tool give information on weather, agriculture tips &techniques and market prices to the farmers in order to help them to improve productivity and earnings.

 

Figure 2: Nokia Life Tool

 

3.     AGRIFONE

AgriFone is an application developed for agriculture sector by a third Party. It addresses the needs of farmers, agricultural workers, agribusinesses and input suppliers. It provides convenient and easy-to-use tools for farmers on cheap mobile phones. Unique feature of AgriFone is one-to-one, one-to-many and peer-to-peer exchange of text, voice and images amongst mobile subscribers. This application was used in Maharashtra/India. AgriFone is not used commercially.

4.     mKRISHI

mKrishi is a joint platform integrating different stakeholders in provisioning agriculture services in local language. Farmers can send queries to agriculture experts and receive replies in personalized or relevant form. It was used in India. This is a proprietary solution.

Figure 3:mKRISHI

How mKrishi works:

mKkrishi is an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – based system. The farmers dial a published number (called the IVR Service number) to avail this service. They listen to it and select the appropriate audio prompts (in the local language of the region). They record their questions and get a question id for each question.

Experts analyze the queries and provide the appropriate audio advice. An SMS is sent to the each farmer indicating that his/her question has been replied to. When the advice is available, the farmers enter the query id on the phone to listen to the expert’s advice. Experts can also send out various alerts like the weather forecast, market prices etc. in either English or the local languages to the farmers.

5.     0700 INTERACTIVE VOICE RESPONSE SERVICE (IVR)

0700 an Interactive Voice Response service (IVR) provides agriculture related information and was launched by Mobilink, Telenor, Ufone and Zong to target rural customers in Pakistan. This service is launched only to facilitate farmer community but was not able to generate sizeable revenue therefore this service is currently discontinued.

6.     ESOKO (ESOKO, 2011)

ESOKO is mobile based system developed for sending SMS to farmers to provide them agricultural information. This application was used in Afghanistan, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Uganda, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Togo.

Esoko services

  • Live market Feeds: Real-time SMS alerts on market prices of agriculture commodities
  • Direct SMS marketing: This feature is used to target specific groups of users to send procurement or extension messages and reduces travel and communication costs
  • Scout polling: This feature is used to set up automatic SMS surveying for field activities to track inventories, crop activities etc. and also this feature monitor and report on crop cycles and yields online
  • Profiling and marketing: Customizable Web space that can advertise goods and services

Figure 4: Esoko

7.     E-ARIK

The E-Arik project established a ‘Village Knowledge Centre’ with computer, internet link, printer, scanner, phone and TV at Yagrung village. Project facilitators (agricultural professionals, a computer instructor and farmer facilitators) were appointed at the Centre to help farmers access ICT based agricultural information. E-Arik is made for the farmers of a village in India.

E-Arik services

  • Information about crop cultivation and other agricultural practices.
  • Baseline information from relevant agriculture and rural developmental departments of government.
  • Specific information on government schemes such as farmer welfare programmers.
  • Day to day market information and weather forecasts.

 

Figure 5: e-Arick

8.     M-FARM

M-Farm is a mobile application that helps Kenyan farmers to get market information and improve their agriculture productivity. Offering a simple, accessible, and affordable alternative to using the internet, small-scale farmers can text the number 3535 to request pricing information for a specific crop in a specific location.

M-Farm services:

  • Enabling farmers to inquire about current market prices of different crops from different regions and/or specific markets.
  • Aggregating farmers needs/orders and connecting them with farm input suppliers.
  • Enabling farmers to sell collectively and connecting them with a ready market.

 

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