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ICTs: helping Zambian farmers make most of produce

Andrea_Jimenez's picture

The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has expanded opportunities for small scale farmers aiming to extend their agri-businesses into viable and sustainable ones. The ICTs are addressing the need to better the way small-scale farmers access the market. Failure to access market has been one of the greatest challenges that Zambia’s small scale farmers have been facing. But with the use of ICTs in accessing market places and prices, the plight of these farmers could soon be history.

Failure to access the market and market information has often made small-scale farmers vulnerable to exploitative briefcase businessmen. Until the Short Message Service (SMS) system was put in place, farmers had very little knowledge about market prices and had to sell their crop to intermediary buyers at prices often well below market rates. The SMS trading system was introduced by the Zambia National Farmers (ZNFU). It is called the ZNFU4455. According to ZNFU media liaison officer Calvin Kaleyi, the SMS system, which was launched in August 2006, is very simple to use.

“The service allows smallholder farmers to compare current prices in their district, province or nationwide and to make the best decision on where to sell their produce, thus giving them commercial power that they did not have previously. With support from corporate sponsors, we intend to introduce new commodities and services to the system,” Mr Kaleyi said.

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