Rwandan farmers will benefit from government’s e-soko project that seeks to help them access latest market information for particular commodities.
The project helps farmers to access the market information using mobile phones.
Government intends to distribute 3,500 mobile phones to farmers through cooperatives. At least one cooperative in every district has been identified to benefit from the project.
Wilson Muyenzi, the e-Rwanda Coordinator, talks with MTN Rwanda, which is a partner, are in the final stages to procure the phones.
“We don’t have a time frame to procure the phones. We were waiting for the launch of e-soko project,” Muyenzi said on telephone.
The project to distribute mobile phones is also in line with government’s intention of bridging the information gap between farmers and buyers.
Muyenzi said the first three to six months farmers will call free of charges where after a subsidized price will be set. Government will pay 50 percent of the cost of the handset, MTN 25 percent and beneficiaries 25 percent.
The development of e-soko and procuring of 3,500 mobile phones is expected to cost $175,000 (Rwf99 million)
Currently farmers have been accessing market prices, only through text messages but with the new service it will be done through interactive voices to facilitate farmers who cannot write or read.
This service helps eliminate middleman who reduce farmers’ margins and also reduce wastage of perishable foods such as vegetables and fruits.
“The whole idea is to empower farmers with market knowledge give them bargaining power to make better decisions and improve on their income, Muyenzi said recently.
The e-soko project was supposed to be on internet but more Rwandans use mobile phones more than the internet.