Inexpensive mobile technologies to empower rural farmers with m-agriculture
Iraba, Marie Louise
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Market information and established communication between seller and buyer play an important role in business activities. This thesis investigates the Transkei area in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa to find out how to empower rural farmers by providing them with less-expensive mobile technology enabling them to post and advertise their produce, access market information on a common database, and find and communicate with potential customers. The farmers’ requirements were identified using quantitative and qualitative methods and a prototype consisting of USSD and web applications was developed. It allows the farmer to follow a sequence of menu commands to send a request to the database and access market information, such as commodity prices, and post information about their own produce so as to attract more customers. The low cost of USSD and the ubiquity of mobile phones enable the system to be usable, affordable and effective. During the final stage of development, the system was tested successfully and addressed a major problem faced by farmers, i.e. lack of access to market information.