Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The role of mobile communications in driving efficiency and sustainability in the food and agriculture value chain

I was checking out on this report by WBCSD-SNV Alliance: Inclusive business and I cannot help but wonder what is keeping us from progressing with such research and technological innovations?

What is the impact of mobile communications on the lives and prosperity of farming communities in some of the world's poorest countries? A new report published this week, Connected Agriculture (click to download) assesses the potential benefits of new mobile data services such as weather forecasts, commodity market information and mobile banking for smallholding farmers operating in marginal circumstances.

The report, produced by Vodafone, one of the world's largest mobile communications companies, and Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, highlights a potential US$ 138 billion uplift in emerging market farmers' incomes, which will mostly be derived from the growth of

  • Mobile money transfer systems, such as Vodafone M-PESA, which provide farmers with the ability to exchange, save and borrow small amounts of capital as well as take out short-term insurance policies;
  • Mobile information services providing detailed and localized weather forecasts, crop prices and resource management information; and
  • Helpline services giving real-time guidance on issues such as pest control and the challenges linked to climate change, including water scarcity.
 The report also concludes that a further uplift in agricultural incomes will emerge as a consequence of the use of advanced mobile communications technology in food production and distribution. This includes installing simple low-cost wireless data devices within storerooms, delivery vehicles and distribution centers to enable emerging market farmers and food producers to develop detailed logistics and tracking systems. These in turn will allow farmers and producers to optimize the movement of crops and produce from farms to consumers' homes as well as gather detailed field data.

The report identifies the following specific opportunities in terms of mobile-enabled solutions for food and agriculture:
Improving access to financial services
Increasing access and affordability of financial services tailored for agricultural purposes
  • Mobile payment system
  • Micro-insurance system
  • Micro-lending platform 

Provision of agricultural information
Delivering information relevant to farmers, such as agricultural techniques, commodity prices and weather forecasts, where traditional methods of communication are limited
  • Mobile information platform
  • Farmer helpline

Improving data visibility for supply chain efficiency
Optimizing supply chain management across the sector, and delivering efficiency improvements for transportation logistics
  • Smart logistics
  • Traceability and tracking system
  • Mobile management of supplier networks
  • Mobile management of distribution networks

Enhancing access to markets
Enhancing the link between commodity exchanges, traders, buyers and sellers of agricultural produce
  • Agricultural trading platform
  • Agricultural tendering platform
  • Agricultural bartering platform
 The report concludes that collaboration across the agricultural supply chain is necessary to deliver these opportunities, with mobile network operations being well-positioned to act as a catalyst for action. "They have the technology, the distribution channels and the customer relationships to drive these initiatives forward. However, NGOs, private enterprises and governments must agree to contribute their knowledge and expertise in order to ensure the delivery of the benefits to their full potential."

No comments:

Post a Comment