A New Digital Information System in Senegal Bringing Together Agricultural Actors
How can farmers who live in remote parts of Senegal still get access to the national market and sell their produce? The answer is called Mlouma, a platform dedicated to bringing buyers and producers closer together.
Here is how that works: Mlouma functions as a virtual agricultural exchange connecting farmers to customers and potential consumers, and enables them to better sell their products. When a specific product is displayed online, potential buyers are notified by SMS alerts. They can then place a purchase order via their mobile phone, which the producer will receive.
In addition to offering a digital marketplace, Mlouma, in partnership with ICCO Cooperation and OCP Africa, launched its newest digital invention in Dakar in January 2020.
Xam Sa Mbay
The innovation called Xam Sa Mbay (which means ‘Know the Agricultural World’ in Wolof), is taking it one step further, by offering an agricultural information system that facilitates interaction between ALL the actors in the agricultural value chain. The system reduces information asymmetry between producers, input suppliers, banks and buyers.
Idrissa Ba, country director for ICCO Cooperation’s STARS program in Senegal: “Farmers have limited access to appropriate loans and affordable quality inputs like fertilizer and seeds, equipment, and extension services. They do not have the information as to where to find these products and services, let alone on how to use them. This is why the STARS team in Senegal has brought together its partners to design a new system that precisely does this.”
Access to market information
Xam Sa Mbay provides producers with information on market prices of agricultural products. In addition, it provides meteorological alerts such as rain forecasts, but also relevant information on available inputs and their suppliers, as well as agricultural best practices.
“Traders and buyers can publish their needs on the platform. This allows producers to better prepare and connect with their buyers, even before the harvest season starts, ”said Aboubacar Sidy Sonko, director of Mlouma.
“We can easily reach our clients and provide information on how to use our products. We provide best agricultural practices and short training modules, simply by sending an SMS to the producers,” Stanislas Gregoire Diouf, representative of the phosphate provider OCP Africa explains.
Access to finance
The platform offers banks and MFIs an opportunity to enroll all of their branches. Banks will be able to publish their financial services and products to producers, buyers and suppliers of inputs. In addition, the platform offers loan monitoring and recovery for its clients.
Idrissa Ba: “A producer organization that registers its members on the platform will have the opportunity to see any financial offer and can directly get in touch with the microfinance institution to apply for a loan.”
Targeted value chains
This platform is currently designed for actors working in the onion and cowpea value chains. In the future, Mlouma intends to offer the same services for actors in Senegal working in the rice, potato, corn and bananas value chains.
The Strengthening African Rural Smallholders (STARS) program is a five-year program (2017-2021) implemented by ICCO Cooperation in partnership with Mastercard Foundation. Adopting the market systems development approach, STARS improves access to finance and markets for over 200,000 smallholder farmers with emphasis on women and youth in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Senegal.