Thank you. Very happy to participate. Introduce myself and how to contact me.
All these organizations came together to found the e-Agriculture Community, with FAO holding the “secretariat” like function. Most are still active today, with each engaging the Community in a way that has evolved based on the needs and programme of the different organizations.
The growth of e-Agriculture Community members REGISTERED on the platform www.e-agriculture.org since September 2007, and of Twitter followers since mid-2008 when the @e_agriculture account was created.
About 80% of the registered members are in developing countries. The members cover a broad range of professions, in both the public and private sectors.
Day to day facilitation of the Community is led by a FAO staff member and an intern (introduce Andrea), with support from the Community’s “virtual volunteers”. Sushil in Nepal, Darline in Senegal, Frejus in Cameroon.
All members can contribute content. Interest of USAID/FHI360, Mercy Corps., Grameen Foundation, etc. due to focused traffic (about 10,000 visits/month, about 25,000-35,000 page views/month) and neutral domain. Twitter began mid-2008, Facebook page and LinkedIn group began mid-2010. About half of website traffic referred from social media (the other half being direct visits or search engines).
A publication about how mobiles are used to track livestock diseases in Kenya. Monitoring and controlling pests and diseases are key to a productive value chain.
Mobile phones are used by the Grameen Foundation’s Community Knowledge Worker (CKW) programme in Uganda to provide farmers access to relevant, timely information on agricultural technologies and practices for smallholders. Content is sourced from several places, including FAO’s TECA knowledge base.
“ ICT uses for inclusive agricultural value chains” – a freely available FAO publication.
We consider Key Topics in depth from time to time using online discussions. Mobile phones have featured in all of the recent discussions.
A critical issue is mobile technology. The rise of the mobile phone and it’s POTENTIAL in the developing world cannot be overlooked. It is of particular interest to us at FAO, because while mobile cellular signals and mobile phones are not everywhere, they are expanding much faster than “wired Internet” access and computers in rural areas.
While great in potential, there are still many challenges and issues to surmount. The information here is based on an e-Agriculture discussion that was held at the end of 2011 with support from mFarmer.
“ Agricultural partner” is an inclusive term for the partner other than the MNO. It could be from public or private sector, a long standing institution like a nat’l agri research center or a new business venture, etc. The question over what role MNOs should take in the mAgri business model was greatly contested in the discussion. There seems to be a tendency for the former model, with examples to support this. However, many believed that this was either not sustainable, or not in the interest of development (reaching the poorest), or both. Further there is a claim that the experience of MNOs in developed countries with open markets has shown that only the latter model succeeds in the long-term.
These are some of the unique value the MNO can bring to a mAgri partnership. It seems USSD is only available with direct participation of the MNO in the mAgri service. SMS services can be provided where the MNO only provides network connectivity.
These are some of the unique value the agricultural partner can bring to a mAgri partnership.
In some cases the discussion participants felt a 3 rd party was essential for mAgri. Some reasons are listed here. There was a lot of discussion about the value of the agri partner associating with more than one MNO. The proponents of this were those who believe the MNO did not have farmer’s best interests at the forefront. Some even from the MNO perspective felt that multiple MNO partners could be feasible once the value of mAgri was better understood by MNO, and as long as agricultural partners could support the MNOs in differentiating their services. It also requires the agri partner to have the ability to provide information in customizable ways.
“ Needs Assessment” is inclusive and development focused, whereas “Demand Analysis” supports finding a business model. These 2 are not necessarily incompatible, but will lead the partners in different directions with regards to the community that is being serviced.
Because of so little obvious success, there is a lot of concern that we do not have the correct models. Thus Gates Foundation and USAID have joined with GSMA to explore this further through mFarmer programme. Many practitioners felt to be successful mAgri will need to blend mobile with radio, F2F training, etc. in order to meet communication requirements of rural communities. This complicates the idea of a 2 institution partnership and business models. Disagreement about MNO’s role: Should it be anything more than network service provider, should MNO get into agri VAS? (refer back to slide 12) It was interesting to note that not all agree on the limitations caused by literacy and language. Some cite cases where illiterate populations benefit from SMS-based services directly (learning to understand symbols/codes) or indirectly (with assistance from intermediaries).
These are critical issues of the customer market. The prevalence of mobile phones in the developing world is a very positive trend. However, with extremely limited financial resources, many individuals will spend on mobile services that have immediate payback/impact versus mobile agricultural VAS that may not show an impact until a production cycle is completed.
This issue was surprisingly contentious in the discussion, so it is worth highlighting. Everyone seemed to agree that “some day” all mAgri would be in the model of a service direct to an individual. The disagreement was over whether or not intermediary services (such as CKW or through farmer cooperatives, etc.) would bridge the gap on a large scale. Some were concerned that intermediary services would in fact hinder/slow the development of direct services. Subsidies were highly opposed by anyone concerned about a sustainable business model, however, some development practitioners felt it the only way “poorest of poor” would ever be served, thereby preventing the rural digital divide from getting wider.
In a simplified sense, the barriers to scale come from the conflict that arises from three competing factors. IKSL (IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited ) has reached scale, but is it a model others can follow? Bharti Airtel is the MNO and Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) the agricultural partner. Many think that finding an equal to IFFCO in any other country is near impossible (there could be exceptions like China, Brazil, but no specific possibilities were mentioned).
The outputs of the e-Agriculture forum on partnerships for mobile information services were moved forward in a F2F meeting held in April in Bangkok this year. Brining together representatives of Ministries of Agriculture, MNOs, NGOs and private sector. A report will be coming out shortly for anyone interested.
Mobile phones and agricultural value chains
Michael RiggsKnowledge and Information Management OfficerFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)firstname.lastname@example.org @mongkolroek
A global Community of Practice.People networking, and exchanging information,ideas and resources on the use of informationand communication technologies (ICT) forsustainable agriculture and food security.About e-Agriculture
10,000 Members registeredGovernment 11%Private sector 15%NGO/CSO 21%UN/international organizations 16%Research organizations 11%Universities 23%Media organizations 3%Africa 25%Asia 29%Europe 13%LAC 23%Near East 3%North America 7%Southwest Pacific 2%As of Jan. 2013 for all reported data. Rounding results in total >100.
Social Media12,877 Twitter followers2,071 Facebook Likes1,684 LinkedIn groupmembersContent Highlights1,915 news items648 Knowledge Basereferences552 forum posts503 event listings124 blog posts16 policy briefse-Agriculture stats 11 Apr. 2013Sharing and social
http://www.e-agriculture.org/agricultural-value-chains-and-ictKey Topic: Value Chains
Mobile TechnologiesMobile technologies forfood security,agriculture and ruraldevelopment: Role ofthe public sectorhttp://www.fao.org/docrep/017/i3074e/i3074e00.htm
Discussing these IssuesIn 5 years, morethan 50,000people have“attended” onlinediscussions.Results:• Policy briefs• New partnerships•Challenges identified,solutions proposed• Good practices shared•Policy/practice frameworksand models developed
Value Chains and Mobiles Improve market transparency andreduce transaction costs Bring new technologies to ruralsmallholder producers Enhance traceability and food safety Positive impacts conditioned bycontext of implementationGraphic source: H. de Silva and D. Ratnadiwakara, LIRNEasiaFarmers require different information at different times along value chain
Why Focus on MobilesMobile phones in rural areasThe potential of mobile technology to benefit ruralcommunities and improve food security is certain.In 2000, 25% of all mobile phones werein developing countries.Today 75% of all mobile phones are in developing countries.
Mobile Information ServicesMOBILE INFORMATION SERVICES: The Benefits of Forming StrongPartnerships to Create Sustainable and Scalable Information AdvisoryServicesOnline Disucssion Forum 21 November - 2 December 2011www.e-agriculture.org/forums/forum-archive The e-Agriculture Community and the mFarmer Initiative forum discusstypes of partnerships that are conducive to creating sustainable andscalable mobile information and advisory services for farmers. mFarmer: partnership between GSMA, USAID and the Bill and MelindaGates Foundation set up to support mobile operators and agriculturalpartners in launching mobile information services that benefit farmers andare commercially viable.
mAgri = mobile agricultural information service What value does mobile network operator(MNO) and agricultural partner bring to mAgri? Understand strengths and leverage Roles clearly defined 2 models for mAgri, but which is better? MNO integrates mAgri in their own serviceportfolio MNO only provides infrastructure and revenuesharing as a business contractMobile Information Services
MNO Provide telecom network (including reach intounderserved regions/areas) Marketing and communication along with otherservices available through network Bundle with complimentary services, e.g. mobilemoney Generating, collecting and sharing revenue withagricultural partner Opportunity for USSD (UnstructuredSupplementary Service Data) in addition to SMSMobile Information Services
Agricultural partner Ability to identify target farmers and their informationneeds Reputation that farmers value, adding to value ofinformation service Understanding format(s) best suited for collection anddelivery of information (voice/IVR, text, etc.) Collect, analyse, refine and make available relevantagricultural information Market information services in the field Convince MNO that mAgri can be real businessMobile Information Services
Need for a third party in mAgri Formatting of content Quality assurance of content Provide a technology platform to create a formatthe MNO can use from the agricultural partner’scontent Partnerships with more than one MNO? Difficult until value of mAgri better understood May provide best value to consumer (i.e. farmers) Requires skill in agricultural partner to supportMNOs’ need for differentiationMobile Information Services
Challenges in the partnership relationship Size of MNO vs. agricultural partner unbalanced bargaining power/relationship MNO may be unwilling to work directly withagricultural partner MNO needs large scale quickly Agricultural partner focus on “needs assessment”vs. MNO focus on “demand analysis”Mobile Information Services
Challenges overall Very few profitable models known to date so how can mAgri be sustainable? Need to blend mobile services with otherinformation services (e.g. face-to-face training) What formats and what ratio? Will other partners be needed? Disagreement about MNO’s role Literacy, language, and interface Especially with SMS or text-based services No agreement on magnitude of this issueMobile Information Services
Consider the “market” for mAgri There are 6 billion phone subscriptions, butonly a fraction belong to farmers who haveinterest, capacity, and can afford mAgri Individual prioritization of expenditure oftendoes not rank agricultural information (thelivelihood) as highest priorityMobile Information ServicesPhoto: Peru Telefonica
Direct to farmer vs. intermediary services Ideal mAgri service is direct to farmer, butrequires all have mobiles AND capacity to acton available information Role of intermediaries (e.g. GrameenFoundation’s CKW) exists Intermediaries (e.g. cooperatives) or subsidies(e.g. government support) can also makeinformation services available to poorest,though probably not on an individual basisMobile Information Services
Barrier to reaching scale is conflict of: Farmers’ cost sensitivity MNO’s need for volume Cost of providing quality, localized information IKSL has achieved scale Partnership of Bharti Airtel and IFFCO IFFCO widely known and trusted by farmers IFFCO very large with significant farm-levellinkages Can two partners like this be found elsewhere?Mobile Information Services
Opportunities and future trends: SMS fades as data costs fall (allowing voiceand rich data to expand) A question of “when?”, not “if” Roles of information producers and ownersclarified (hopefully) May separate MNO from VAS provider (as historyshows in developed countries) Research into low cost and low energysolutions for both handsets and networksMobile Information Services
Opportunities and future trends (cont.): Awareness and capacity development atindividual level are critical Mobilization of local content based on farmers’innovation and knowledge Content resource/database grows (“learns”)from farmers’ information requests such ashelp linesMobile Information Services