For long, farmers in East Africa, particularly in Somaliland, faced challenges in getting their produces to the market at a possible price. Additionally, they faced delays in accessing finances timely and affordable matters? How is that true when we are living in the age of Smart technology?
For the past decades and since the decline of Somali’s central government, the only marketing model followed by our farmers was to deal with a middle man, who greatly exploited between the farmers and the market. In this process, the farmers sold their precious produces at a cheaper price to a middle man who then sells at a more profitable price. This left farmers frustrated and quite often discouraged to continue the practice of farming and many times their corps got rotten at the farm.
When we realise these problems, Shaqodoon’s technology for development (T4D) department with support from Spark (a Dutch development company), designed a mobile-based market information system to deal with farmer’s market engagement challenges. The new system needs no internet. How is this possible with no regular internet connection? It is a simple, mobile solution that negates the need for an internet connection. This is now allowing the farmers to direct and lead their own futures. The new mobile-based MIS address the following:
Provide information to Somali farmers to get a fair price for their produce
Diversification of farm produces to reduce exaggeration of the market.
Reduce the exploitation of middle man
Linking the farmers directly to sellers (market) in an innovative way.
How it works
The market information system or the farmer’s application has two sections, a voice or mobile based section connected to three digit short code, like 315, and web-enabled section administered by operators (Campany, Ministry of agriculture, etc).
The shortcode is a user-friendly telephone number primarily meant for following types of users;
Farmers: connecting to the market information
Buyers: connecting to farmers
Price tellers: to update the price of items every day
Agricultural product companies: connected to farmers to sell seeds
Agricultural experts: give advice to farmers
Operators: company that facilitates selling between farmers and buyers
Ministry of agriculture: getting agricultural data for reporting and planning issues
Calling the shortcode, it gives different options not only to farmers but also to buyers who are looking for information about farmer’s produces. The voice-based system enables farmers to listen to daily prices of their products as buyers would do. Most importantly, without moving to the nearest town, at their farms, the farmers can sell their produces through their mobiles by calling the short code for free at the moments. It was great to gain support from Telesom company, a leading telecommunication company to sponsor the system for two years and let the farmers enjoy the process. Additionally, the system connects farmers to agricultural companies and experts for tools and advice respectively. On the other hand, buyers can buy farmers products by calling the short code and back-end web Operator Company will facilitate the delivery of goods. Furthermore, the ministry of agricultural development in Somaliland has some levels of access to know more about what type of crops are farmers planting this and the next season which helps them develop a greater understanding of farmers needs in country agricultural development planning.
The mobile/voice-based market information system is now called M-Dalag( Mobile Dalag, Dalag means crop). It was launched last year (2018) November during the commencement of global entrepreneurship week. Since then is accessed by more than 40 farmers and will expand to the rest of Somalia in the coming years to serve the farmers.