Senegalese farmers access market with mobile

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afrol News, 9 October - WAP technology is arriving at the Senegalese countryside, promising to revolutionise the access to essential market information for local farmers. A project of broadcasting the prices of different markets through new information will protect farmers against dubious middlemen.

The new 'Manobi' project, jointly organised by French and Senegalese entrepreneurs, is already in the process of testing the new WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) technology among 150 Senegalese stakeholders of the agricultural sector; from traders to croppers. Manobi collects price information of all agricultural products from the many urban markets of the country; data that changes significantly from day to day and between city and city.

The typical Senegalese farmer normally has had two alternatives when it comes to offering his products to the market - transporting it by himself to a nearby market or selling it to a middleman, travelling by his village. Information about the current price levels normally reached him through the middleman - which was in a position to claim prices were lower than actually was true - or when he reached the market place.

Through the Manobi project, farmers and others are receiving real time market information through their mobile (cell) telephone when they need it; on how tomato prices are developing or on the millet price differences between the market in Dakar and Tambacounda. Differences may be enormous, making a longer journey lucrative. Also, knowing about real market prices puts the seller in a better position negotiating with the middleman, offering him to transport his goods to the market.

- For a farmer it is very interesting to note that price is not something stable, Daniel Annerose, head of Manobi, told BBC. "A price is living data and is changing very quickly," he added. 

Even if a large part of Senegal's rural residents are illiterate, they are experiences calculator-users and many have a cell phone, according to Annerose. Thus, implementing the new WAP technology had proved viable. 

The system of WAP price information is to be integrates in the services of Sonatel, the national telephone company. If plans fulfil, the WAP service might soon find a large client group in the Senegalese countryside. Manobi is negotiating with the organisations of Senegalese farers - representing some 250,000 persons - to offer the new service.


Sources: Based on press reports, Senegalese govt and afrol archives

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