Beyond the hype: Mobile phones and the web to improve agricultural value chains
This technical brief (PDF) by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) summarizes the lessons learned from seven ICT4Ag projects, offering key recommendations for future projects. The brief highlights the importance of understanding users’ needs by interacting with potential clients before designing an app and then pilot-testing it to fine tune the services provided. Another key recommendation is that a text-based service is cheaper and easier than developing and maintaining a graphical interface, and works better with the low availability of smartphones. Next, face-to-face promotion and training familiarize users with the app and help build a large client base. In the medium term, however, user fees are unlikely to sustain such services; they will still depend on other sources of income, especially donor funds. Last, it is found that partnerships are vital, both as a source of data to analyze and disseminate, and for support in promoting the app among clients. Details of the final outputs of the seven ICT4Ag projects are provided in separate briefs. One of these briefs (PDF) explains the progress in scaling up satellite-based information services in South Sudan to provide farmers with targeted extension services. Another brief (PDF) describes efforts to scale-out mapping services using geospatial technology to smallholder farmers across Ghana. Also the work of collecting cashew market prices from across Ivory Coast and sending the information to cashew growers via text is discussed (PDF).