24 August 2008

Mobile telephony makes a difference in livelihoods

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Microfinance
MobileActive reports on how farmers in emerging markets are using mobile phones to improve their livelihoods:

Agriculture is what keeps economies in most developing countries alive. However, farmers in many countries face major challenges. In an age of global markets, they are forced to enhance production, improve the quality of their yield, and access markets within short timeframes. Small-scale farmers especially have traditionally been deprived of weather and crop information, have been at the mercy of middlemen, and have lacked timely market price information to negotiate the best deal. This has chancged with the a connect people advent of widespread telephony that connects farmers wiith markets, weather, and other data.

Governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international donors are taking advantage of this technology revolution to help farmers access market information. They are convinced that low-cost access to agricultural prices could yield enormous payoffs.

Although illiteracy is still a big issue in the use of this technology, the author reflects on what the future might bring:

“It may very well be that as phones become more like small computers able to access the web and deliver email without being out of reach and data costs continue to decline, even small scale farmers will eventually begin to be able to take advantage of more sophisticated data delivery. Projects could, for example, send detailed information via email to farmers as opposed to the short text that SMS allows.”

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