E-Soko Boosts Marketing of Agricultural Products in Rwanda
Farmers in Rwanda have got a boost with the introduction of the e-market to help them market their agricultural produce and get premium prices. The e-market was mainly introduced to provide market information and bridge the information gap to address some of the supply constraints. Fondly known as e-soko, the e-market is an electronic platform giving farmers, consumers and traders up-to-date market price information by SMS and is now widely used.
Latest figures from Rwanda Development Board (RDB)-IT department show that 7,100 farmers, traders and consumers in the country are using the service. With this service, middlemen who used to take advantage of farmers by dictating market prices have reportedly been eliminated. "Today, Rwandan farmers identify profitable markets to sell their produce by sending free SMS and accessing the information on Internet," a statement from RDB says.
"The public is able to follow price trends for the various commodities hence enabling them to make informed decisions regarding production and marketing of their produce," the statement further says. Projections show the number of users is bound to grow as Rwanda Development Board-IT team has embarked on a countrywide sensitization campaign to popularize the services.
The people enjoying this service are connected to the MTN network. They either send SMS using 7656 code or access the information on Internet by visiting Url: http://www.esoko.gov.rw/
After the piloting phase, there are moves to enhance this system to increase the amount of information available to users as well as include a commodity trading platform on the web application. The application will enable producers get into direct contact with large scale consumers and traders both on the local and international market.
The development comes when agriculture is the principal foreign exchange earner in Rwanda. However, production is largely subsistence; characterized by an information gap from both the supply and demand sides of the production chain.
East African Business Week