World Bank to Help Farmers Get Market Data in Kenya

Computing

The World Bank is launching a project to make commodity pricing information available to farmers electronically. Digitalisation of agricultural commodity prices is part of an Sh8 billion Kenya Transparency and Communication Infrastructure Project (KTCIP) whose aim is to increase the use of technology in the agricultural sector.

Of the Sh8 billion funding, Sh200 million has been earmarked for development of a universal communication and information services using the Internet, short message services (SMS) and other forms of communication.

Colin Bruce, the World Bank country director, said the bank's support for the initiative is informed by insight into the potential that it has to reduce the cost of doing agribusiness in the country.

The agricultural sector has been identified as a key area for fast-tracking the initiative due to the progress made by the Kenya Agricultural Commodities Exchange (KACE) has made. It developed information pipeline 10 years ago to update farmers on pricing trends in their respective markets. KACE utilises a market information system to help smallholder farmers access better markets and prices for their produce. The information is transmitted through mobile phones and the Internet.

Mr Adrian Mukhebi, KACE's executive director said mobile phone-based SMS services such as Sokoni allowed access to daily agricultural commodity prices, extension service messages as well as offers users the opportunity to bid or sell.

Under the joint efforts of the Government and the World Bank, the main objective of the proposed funding for KACE will be to scale-up the service for a wider range of agricultural commodities including key export crops such as coffee and tea and giving more comprehensive information to farmers.

Funding will be used to educate farmers in agricultural commodity markets, with recipients getting access to information detailing how they can use the service to their benefit. Plans are also underway to develop a web-services arrangement whereby the mobile service provider also pushes the data in real time to an appropriate website.

(Source: Business Daily)