As mentioned in previous posts, mobile telephony has great potential for developing rural agriculture. It is an affordable and accessible means of communication that unlocks huge economic opportunities, especially for the rural farmers.
When effectively adopted and intergrated into rural agribusiness, mobile telephony makes information sharing easier. It abolishes the constraint of distance between each individual rural dweller and other individuals or institutions in the value chain, thereby making information and knowledge dissemination that less cumbersome. The handheld mobile device is no longer just a tool for making and receiving calls, but it is comes in handy to provide multiple integrated services capable of improving the livelihood of the world’s poor in the rural areas.
Despite the well known and huge benefits of the mobile phone, there are limitations and inherent challenges not forgetting doubts, regarding how market information systems enabled by mobile telephony can bring tangible economic benefits to rural agriculture. In most cases, the limitations come from lack of or inadequate provisions of complementary investments like good roads, functional education for rural farmers, and a lack of proper agriultrual reforms in the rural areas. So, policy makers and development practitioners have more work to do in order to help make the deployment of market information via mobile telephony effective.
That said, the benefits of using text or SMS-based mobile services in rural agriculture cannot be overemphasised. Imagine extension officers deploying SMS to follow up on rural farmers on a periodic basis; you can be sure that in time these farmers will be able to use these alerts/ updates to improve their outputs and over time agricultural incomes.
In a majority of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the extension services of agriculture departments are not always effective for many reasons. The logistics the extension officers require to reach rural areas like motorbikes or bikes are often unavailable or grossly inadequate or simply expensive to maintain. That hampers effective work even by the most diligent extension officers. This is where the use of text/SMS in rural agriculture comes in and becomes very important.
Whether it is for peer-to-peer collaboration or merely connecting farmers with one another, mobile telephony helps improve marketing information among rural farmers as well as being a great source of improving or doing away with outdated rural agricultural practises.
Two practical ways of enhancing rural agriculture via text/SMS-based mobile services for example is via:
1. Real-time market feeds. Live market information via SMS alerts on such things as market prices can greatly help rural farmers. Rural farmers can use their handheld mobile devices to facilitate sales of produce, orders, deliveries, and payments via SMS alert services.
2. Direct text/SMS extension services. Travel and communication costs are minimised where rural farmers have access to information on quality seeds, financial and input resources via text/SMS alert messages.
For more on rural mobile telephony and mobility solutions tailored to help rural farmers increase their output and incomes significantly contact us today.