Rwanda has stepped up its efforts to use technology as a tool to improve farmer livelihoods, production and marketing, an official said.
The development comes after the Rwanda Development Board technology department (RDB-IT) deployed nationally a web-based, crop price tracker and other tools like mobile phones under the e-soko project.
Wilson Muyenzi the coordinator of e-Rwanda said the project aims to take the benefits of ICT to all sections of society.
An on-line price tracker will provide farmers with knowledge of the market prices and stay informed about market prices and where to sell their produce
Muyenzi said that the on-line facility will ultimately create a bargaining power for their produce and, therefore, higher incomes instead of relying on middlemen who cheat the farmers by buying produce at low prices and selling at much higher prices.
Currently farmers have been accessing market prices, only through SMS (text messages) where farmers would request for prices from a particular market and for a specific commodity.
The project’s, web based-crop price tracker and mobile phones are being run in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and the telecom operators (MTN, Rwandatel and Tigo).
Currently, the system only runs on the MTN network and yet to be available on the other networks.
According to Muyenzi, e-soko registered a positive impact but not significantly mainly because the awareness of the system is still low.
In line with increasing awareness, the project has embarked on a nationwide awareness campaign to make known the existence and benefits of the system.
“This system will make it easy for small farmers to join up and collectively market and sell their produce,” he said.
The second phase of the project which is expected to be completed by November this year, project implementers will also provide information related to pests, diseases, new farming techniques and new crop varieties.