Small farmers usually sell their produce at giveaway prices due to a lack of market information. This has resulted in declining household income for farmers, resulting in low morale and decreased productivity. Thanks to new online produce-trading platforms, however, this could soon be a thing of the past.
Developed in Ghana, MFarms is an innovative mobile and web-based platform that links farmers and other players within the agricultural value chain, easing management and communication of market data, including prices. This platform also helps agro-dealers manage and streamline the farm input trade, especially fertilisers.
In South Africa, mobile technologies such as Khula! are also effectively connecting farmers in emerging markets with buyers across the country. These are typically farmers who produce a reasonably small harvest; through the platform, they can combine their crops to reach the necessary requirements to supply their products on a larger scale.
Using the app, farmers can list their produce and track real-time inventory levels from emerging farmers as well as basic production forecasting. The app also includes a crowd-sourcing marketplace where farmers can satisfy market demand and incoming orders.
Mass migration to urban areas has caused a weakening in farmers’ personal networks to buyers, along with having to compete with supermarkets that can meet consumer needs at scale. Mobile apps such as these are one way that farmers can stay resilient and agile in these tough economic times.