CIO East Africa
Vodacom Tanzania has expressed its commitment to improving the fortunes of smallholder farmers in Tanzania through innovative mobile solutions.
The firm's MD Rene Meza says that with commercially sustainable mobile agriculture solutions under the Connected Farmers Alliance (CFA) now in use, farmers are experiencing better yields and receiving pay for their produce directly to their mobile phones.
More than 600 smallholder farmers have already benefitted from this initiative that seeks to expand the use of mobile financial services by the farmers.
A service developed by Finland-based Sibesonke dubbed mFarming is on the other hand helping farmers access real-time information on weather forecasts, crop and livestock management tips including advice on topics such as pests and disease treatment.
"The agricultural sector plays a key part in the growth of this economy and we believe that with this service plus others under the CFA initiative, farmers will get more from their farms as well as improve the country's food security situation. Through mobile phones, farmers even in very remote areas are now connected with experts and other farmers," adds Mr. Meza.
The mFarming service allows farmers to buy and sell crops and livestock; receive crop management tips for 23 crops; livestock management tips for six animal types; the days weather forecast for free and a 3-days forecast with subscription. Farmers are also able to ask for transport services through the service in order to get their produce to the market.
Farmers on Vodacom can access the mFarming service by dialling *149*50# on their mobile phones.
According to the CEO Sibesonke, Uwe Schwarz, the service runs on the company's award-winning USSD-based mobile community platform, sending the agricultural information directly to the farmers' mobile phones.
Vodacom Tanzania and Sibesonke signed a strategic cooperation in May last year to provide life improving value added mobile services in Tanzania, after Sibesonke got into content partnership with the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security & Cooperatives, and the Ministry of Livestock & Fisheries Development.
Visiting Finnish Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto said that the partnership between Sibesonke and the mobile network operator was the kind of partnership the Government of Finland was looking at having in developing countries under the guidance of the Task Force on Innovations for Development and Business.
The Task Force on Innovations for Development and Business was set up by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy in February 2013. The members included representatives from the Team Finland network, the business sector, universities and NGOs. The Finnish delegation to Tanzania is led by the Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen.