Cell-phone alerts give farmers crucial information on their crops.
Accurate, timely information helps small farmers boost their incomes and improve food security.
Just ask Susogn Poatab, a smallholder farmer in Chamba, Ghana. Once unable to get information on prices outside his local market, Poatab now receives text messages that show where he can get the most money for his yams. The SMS price alerts from Esoko, a Ghanaian firm whose products allow different parties in the agricultural value chain to exchange real-time market information, are making a difference.
Without them, Poatab would not have known that his harvest of 100 tubers was worth nearly three times more in the community of Ejura than in his local market. The profit covered the salaries of five laborers working on his farm.
IFC is helping bring that technology to more farmers in the world’s poorest countries. We invested $1.25 million in Esoko, whose system stabilizes input prices, making food more secure.
Just by glancing at their mobile phones, farmers can tell the demand and prices for crops, and the location of seeds and fertilizers. Businesses can use the same system to see how their products are used and market themselves to new customers. For associations and governments, bulk text messaging can transmit information to thousands of people.
The smooth flow of information is essential for well-functioning markets, making countries more resilient in the face of crises and more open to investment and giving the poor a better shot at prosperity. IFC invested in Esoko, alongside the Soros Economic Development Fund, because we believe rapid growth in the use of mobile phones in Africa provides an opportunity to address development challenges with innovative technology. We can also set an example that inspires investors who aren’t typically interested in developing markets.