Mobile farming information service prepares to launch in Ethiopia

Mobile Technology

Mobile farming information service prepares to launch in Ethiopia

Chickpea farmers in Addis Ababa could check weather, price and demand information using a proposed new mobile information service. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30450178@N07/7179539743/in/photostream/">abossuet (Flickr)</a>
Chickpea farmers in Addis Ababa could check weather, price and demand information using a proposed new mobile information service. Photo: abossuet (Flickr)

Ethiopia is home to the latest program that will deliver business information to poor farmers using solar-powered mobile phones.

Connect4Change, a consortium formed by five Dutch NGOs, is on the ground in Ethiopia's central Oromia province with a €200,000 budget to create the "Farmers Market Information System."

"Farmers will be able to receive information on market prices for their products, the weather forecast, or availability of fertilizers with a simple text message," E-agriculture.org reported last month. "In addition to this, they will be provided with solar mobile chargers."

Delivering the software is Ethiopia-based Apposit LLC, which has previously applied mobile software to malaria tracking, commodity exchange and financial services.

The backing NGOs include the International Institute for Communcation and Development, Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation, Cordaid, Edukans and Akvo, wrote program manager Liesbeth Hofs.

If it works, the group hopes to expand the program elsewhere in Ethiopia and to eventually have it support itself by charging farmers for the service.

"According to our research among our target groups, farmers and farmers' organizations are willing to pay if the information is relevant and accurate," said regional manager Olaf Erz.

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