Feedelix launches Ethiopian agricultural pricing system

Digital Content

Feedelix Wireless Inc., a provider of SMS/Mobile IM solutions for non-Latin scripts last week announced results from its recently deployed BoonaNET project in five locations in Ethiopia using an integrated mobile phone and web-based system for agricultural commodity price information. According to Feedelix Wireless, the results indicate that the country’s farmers in key agricultural product growing areas are ready to embrace modern technology to get equitable prices for their products.

Coming in a period where Ethiopia is currently experiencing a runaway inflation in core food items and grains such as Teff (the grain that forms the staple food in the country, Injera), Berbere (red pepper), and sesame seeds, Feedelix’s first integrated Ethiopic-script based commodity price information system is proving useful in providing real-time market information for farmers, traders, economists, and interested policy makers. In a project that was launched in early August of 2007, Feedelix set-up a team of agricultural price information data collectors in key coffee, Teff and red pepper (Berbere) growing regions. The data collectors subsequently fed the price information to Feedelix servers through an integrated system that consisted Ethiopic script interface with SMS (for IP enabled phones) and web-based instant messaging (IM). Similar data on key commodity price information was collected from the country’s main grain market in Addis Ababa in Mesalemiya and then fed to the database on a daily basis. The data was subsequently compiled and processed at the end of the working day. A price manifesto of prices at Addis Ababa and the rural areas is then published and sent back to the farmers through the data collectors. The price manifesto were then printed and posted at convenient location in the five regional centers such as Internet cafes and cooperative offices.

“This project demonstrated that in some locations such as Alaba in the Ethiopian Rift Valley, the availability of real-time market information was believed to demonstrate an adjustment in the price of red pepper, the region’s most important commodity,” said Ashenafi Assefa, the associate project leader for BoonaNET. Assefa indicated that the market for red pepper (Berbere) in Ethiopia is currently experiencing very large price increases due to speculations and a multitude of reasons not clear even to professionals in the commodities market. However, Feedelix’s project was the only technology available to determine the increase in price at the source – before the effect on the Addis Ababa market was felt. Mr. Assefa added that it took a full 48 hours before the traders in Addis Ababa increased their Berbere prices after the Alaba traders already hiker their prices. “Feedelix would like to make this tool available in different agricultural regions of the country to provide an efficient and useful modern technological tool that can empower farmers to make informed decisions regarding the price of their agricultural commodities,” said Ashenafi Assefa.

FeedelSMS is an easily downloadable, self-contained, and interoperable application. The open architecture the developers envisioned allows users to download FeedelSMS on any handset across any system (GSM, CDMA) and across a multitude of wireless carriers around the world. The quick one-step download coupled with existing key board mapping gives the users the comfort to utilize the product right away.