Liberian farmers use SMS to get better prices
Farmers in Liberia can now access market pricing information through SMS on their mobile phones. Agricultural Market Information and Linkage System (AMILS) was launched this week by Agro, Inc., a regional agribusiness specializing in linking farmers to markets. AMILS was designed to make agricultural markets work better for Liberian farmers, specifically targeting smallholder farmers in often isolated rural areas.
AMILS involves harnessing modern SMS delivery to mobile phones to empower smallholder farmers with low-cost reliable and timely market information to enhance their bargaining power for better prices in the market place, especially with intermediary buying agents and processors.
Market pricing information is provided on an expanding list of agro-products that currently includes cocoa, coffee, oil palm, rubber, cassava, pepper, plantain, pineapples, corn, and rice.
According to Agro, Inc. president, Tupin K. Morgan, “Our vision of success is of farmers well linked to agribusinesses, with significantly increased incomes through effective and profitable participation in agricultural input and output markets with the help of modern ICT.” By aiming to increase the incomes of farmers and other rural MSMEs, Agro, Inc. will be contributing directly to the Government of Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy and also to Millennium Development Goal No. 1 of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger by half by the year 2015.
Agro, Inc has set up a hotline to allow farmers not currently linked to AMILS to sign up for the service and begin receiving market pricing information directly to their mobile phones. John Kpenieh, a farmer in Koyokah District, Bong County is pleased with the new advantages provided by AMILS. “Information is a very powerful tool and it is the only way that the Liberian smallholder farmer can guard himself or herself against exploitation by middlemen,” he says. The company will also be signing up farmers and farming cooperatives at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Annual Agriculture Fair to be held this year in Voinjama, Lofa County.
Agro, Inc is a provider of post-harvest services to farmers and farming cooperatives. With operations in Margibi, Bong, Lofa, Nimba, and Maryland counties, Agro bridges the gaps in the value chain to connect producers and users of agri-commodities through origination, processing, marketing and distribution capabilities and services.