Farmers Perform Better with ICT
Farmers and producers in Africa and Latin America performed better while in the Connect4Change program in which they used ICT. This is one of the main outcomes of the final report of Connect4Change.
Over the last 5 years, the Connect4Change alliance has improved income and employment opportunities for small-scale producers and entrepreneurs by using ICT. Integrating ICT in development interventions is necessary to make them effective and relevant, says Rob Witte, specialist in agricultural value chains. “You can only reach your objectives by choosing the right tools and targets. The ICT could run very well, but it’s about the people who are working with the tools. They will only continue to work with the tools if they get the feeling that they benefit.”
Connect4Change and ICCO implemented the program, starting 2011, in six countries: Peru, Bolivia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Kenya. The program focused on economic development, for example in Burkina Faso where farmers faced problems due to a lack of sufficient trade information. “In our experience, when farmers get access to price information, they are doubling prices. The following year, farmers are also doubling production, so in two to three years, they cash four times more than before,” says Rob Witte.
In Burkina Faso, the national Shea Sector umbrella (Table FiliÃ¨re KaritÃ©) and Afrique Verte launched a platform for trade information and food products marketing. This platform was accessed by mobile phone text messages to connect supply and demand and reached over 4,700 farmers. In 2014, the volume of trade facilitated with this platform was over 92 million Euros.
In Kenya, incomes increased by using ICT in several chains: sweet potato, onion, Irish potato and tomato. Farmers are now able to bargain for better prices and sell to competitive markets. Combined with improved farm productivity, this resulted in improved gross margin per acre. The annual turnover per farmer has increased from 160 Euros to 660 Euros. The effects of the ICT solutions were substantial: 68% of the farmers had an income increase of 20-25% compared to previous production seasons.
Partners are now able to use the developed ICT to evolve markets and increase production even more. Rob Witte: “Once the combination of technological and economic development is right, ICT can create an enormous wave of new demand for a good product.”
The Connect4Change program ended in December 2015. More information about the completed projects can be found at http://connect4change.nl/ or in the final report.