Cellphones are improving agriculture in Kenya
Kenya’s small-scale farmers have a new tool to help them break out of the cycle of poverty and declining productivity — the cellphone.
Although they account for 70% of Kenya’s agricultural production, families farming on plots smaller than one acre are among the country’s poorest. Exploited by predatory intermediaries they all too often sell their produce for far less than its true market value.
Kenyan Farmers Discover the Internet
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IDRC in Kenya
DrumNet, an ambitious IDRC-supported project, is improving farmers’ livelihoods by increasing price and productivity, allowing farmers to sell directly to markets and consumers, eliminating intermediaries, and ultimately making the country’s agriculture sector more efficient.
DrumNet offers an essential tool to farmers — information. They can find out which crops are in greatest demand, the rules and regulations of the lucrative European market, and the daily fair market price. And that is just the beginning.
Using GSM-enabled (Global System for Mobile Communications) cellphone technology, DrumNet’s integrated set of services also include credit linked to agricultural extension and marketing.
“The drum was used to pass information in Africa,” says Edith Adera, a senior program specialist with IDRC in Kenya. “We are now moving from the African drum to the latest technology.”
Participating farmers can access DrumNet by cellphone — researchers determined that a computer-based network would be too expensive, too slow and unreliable. In addition, DrumNet kiosks managed by “info brokers” collect and share information and arrange buying and selling deals, all at minimal cost to participating farmers.
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