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Mobile phones and agricultural value chains

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Mobile phones and agricultural value chains by Michael Riggs, e-Agriculture

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Mobile phones and agricultural value chains

  1. 1. Michael RiggsKnowledge and Information Management OfficerFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)michael.riggs@fao.org @mongkolroek
  2. 2. 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
  3. 3. Founding partners (2006)
  4. 4. Growth of the Community
  5. 5. 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.
  6. 6. Community facilitation
  7. 7. 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
  8. 8. http://www.e-agriculture.org/agricultural-value-chains-and-ictKey Topic: Value Chains
  9. 9. Mobile TechnologiesMobile technologies forfood security,agriculture and ruraldevelopment: Role ofthe public sectorhttp://www.fao.org/docrep/017/i3074e/i3074e00.htm
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. 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
  12. 12. 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.
  13. 13. 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.
  14. 14. 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
  15. 15.  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
  16. 16.  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
  17. 17.  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
  18. 18.  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
  19. 19.  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
  20. 20. 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
  21. 21. 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
  22. 22.  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
  23. 23. 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
  24. 24. 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
  25. 25. www.e-agriculture.org

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