Mobile technology improves farmers’ lives in Africa

Mobile technology improves farmers’ lives in Africa

We have seen success stories of mobile technology application in African microfinance. Now we are seeing similar successes in agriculture. From Kenya, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Ghana, and Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, and more in the pipeline- farmers have started using mobile services to get the latest market price for their crop, to get application advice, and even to buy and sell on the platform in some markets. This is important as right fertilizer application and access to markets with equitable pricing will greatly improve farm economics.

Mobile usage is high in most developing countries and is the quickest way for anyone to communicate and access information. Many organizations have leveraged the technology to give farmers free market information via SMS. A  BBC report visually shows the impact of a service run by aid agency Rongead. Cashew farmers in the Ivory Coast where Rongead operates now get pricing and price movement information via SMS for free. They can then decide whether to sell or hold for a higher price thereby maximing returns.

M-farm in Kenya, run by a private corporation, not only offers market information but also helps farmers buy and sell their products using SMS. They aggregate farmers needs or orders and connect them with farm input suppliers. They also enable farmers to sell collectively and connect them with a ready market. This aggregation gives farmers more leverage in the marketplace.

Makerere University under the wings of Prof Moses Tenywa, has for the last two years provided timely and relevant information on markets, fertilizer application, right plant spacing, timely planting, diseases like potato blight and other important farm related information, to farmers in Uganda.

Proper farming techniques such knowing the right inputs and applying the right fertilizer significantly improves yields. Getting access to capital and having the market to support farmers is a different story. While not the be all and end all to improve the market structure in Africa, mobile technology provides at the very least some transparency- a key ingredient to an efficient market.

You can find more case studies on the IFA website. If you have more stories, please reach out to the writer Carmen Feliciano at