Mobile Farmers

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a semifinalist.

Mobile Farmers

Minna, NigeriaMinna, Abuja, Nigeria
Year Founded:
2012
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

In Nigeria the number of active mobile phone users is about 110.3million as at November 2012, about 66.4% of the entire Nigerian population and 87% of 10million farmers have access to these mobile phones, making it practically possible to attempt the task of bridging the agriculture information gap

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if a single mobile app could be used to improve food security and save millions of lives?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

One of the challenges of agricultural development in Nigeria is the inability of farmers to access vital information or the information is poorly disseminated with inadequate feedbacks between farmers, research institutes and policy makers in the agricultural sector. Agricultural extension system in the country has a lot of challenges especially in the area of “feedbacks” as majority of farmers depend on radio stations for their source of info

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Mobile Farmers is a pre-paid mobile app for farmers that is a convenient, secure and affordable way for information dissemination and feedback for effective research – extension – farmer linkage. It is a platform for inquiry by farmers - problem solving platform and a source for market information for farmers, agro input suppliers, commodity traders, etc. Also, it is a means of advertisement for agro-allied industries such as fertilizer, seed, agro chemicals companies etc. Farmers that uses the mobile app can obtain knowledge and information easily, they do not need to be educated before they can use the app since it will operate on a multiple Nigerian language system that cuts across language barriers. It’s convenient and easy to use.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

As I walked through the town with my interpreter to the house of Baba Mohammadu Dangana, popularly called “Sarkin Noma” (king of farmers, in Hausa), to speak on a newly introduced mobile app that works via mobile phone I watched and listened intently as curious townsmen came out of their houses to have a glimpse of the newcomer. Baba Dangana, who is the head of farmers in his community, said they were offered advice on improved farming season, using simple technologies that have improved their harvest yield and income. "We got messages on our mobile phones and we were told to go and buy fertilizer and seeds from the company that offered huge discounts to us, which is quite different from what we are used to in times past."

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Mobile Farmers' pre-paid app reduces the problem of inadequate extension agent as most farmers would prefer to inquiry at their convenience rather than keep an appointment with an extension agent who may not show up. Although it is important to note that the usefulness of extension agents cannot be over emphasized as they would be responsible for field demonstrations and other technology transfer services. However, Mobile Farmers' app can be use as a means of helping farmers to help themselves, analyzing farmers problems and stimulating innovations among them, identifying opportunities, offering advice, delivering and promoting new and or improved agricultural technologies, supporting and facilitating collective action among groups of farmers. Finally, it improves the monitoring of quality extension services in Nigeria as proper records can now be kept and retrieve when needed.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Within 18months, Mobile Farmers through partnership with Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development in Universities of Agriculture Abeokuta and Markudi, will deploy Mobile Farmers’ app in 8million farmers’ handset establishing a cost-effective two-way traffic. Marginal data and SMS charges per usage will encourage thorough information exchange which will improve the pitiful and unenviable image of Nigerian farmer who is old, poor and bent by hard labour- invariably the result of the use of stone-age implements and outdated method of farming.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Sustainability is based on leverage and profit sharing. We commissioned AMPL India to develop a secured cloud service in partnership with the Department of Agricultural Extension in Universities of Agriculture to enhance information accessibility and feedback at lowest cost. Profits arising from pre-paid services and advertisements are shared between us and Universities of Agriculture to encourage maximum involvement of University staff in R&D.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

m-Solutio is a mobile platform that is aimed at informing, empowering and educating individuals to overcome food and water wastage on the continent of Africa - See more at: http://www.changemakers.com/project/m-solutio#sthash.LGC53xag.dpuf. However, Mobile Farmers' unlike m-Solutio which is only SMS based platform, uses both the SMS and Push in-app, that gives farmers access to some advanced features like in-line photo and location sharing
Team

Founding Story

My Company sells Farmer's Delight organic treatment product to smallholder farmers in rural communities and each farming communities visted have peculiar questions. From my probing amongst the smallholder farmers, I discovered there is near absence of Extension Agents. Looking at the myriads of problems that faced the farmers, I thought of Mobile Farmers. A cost-effective mobile app that helps the smallholder farmers to ensure food security, sustainable use of resources, improved nutrition, wealth creation, and poverty alleviation which are also central in the agenda of extension services. Mobile Farmers can improve farming technology and farmers’ livelihood and in that way they will not be waiting for extension officer which maybe late.

Team

Mobile Farmers have full time, part time staff and volunteers. The Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, Universities of Agriculture in Abeokuta and Markudi provide a lot of Research and Development assistance. Also, our IT Partner, AMPL India ensure that there is seamless real time information transfer and feedback responses from the farmers via the mobile app to the appropriate department of Mobile Farmers team and back
About You
Organization:
Spyweb Network
About You
First Name

Okey

Last Name

Esse

LinkedIn URL
About Your Organization
Organization Name

Spyweb Network

Organization Country

, NI, Minna, Abuja

Country where this project is creating social impact

, NI, Minna

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

Impact
Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

To spread the project across Nigeria is easier and costs almost nothing. As at October 8, 2013 there are 10 million registered farmers in across the length and breath of Nigeria and 75% of these farmers owns a mobile phone line, the goal of Mobile Farmers is to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture on ways to form synergy and deploy this mobile app to the farmers' mobile lines. Furthermore, replication of Mobile Farmers project across West Africa will be faster since there will be no additional equipment or infrastructure setup to take-off the project in these countries.

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Government bureaucracies is a major setback to deployment of mobile app to the benefiting mobile phones, however, Mobile Farmers have started with the negotiations, presentation and followups towards making sure that there is seamless working relationships designated units in the Agriculture Ministry.
Furthermore, different phone applications and models might impair the smooth deployment of the mobile app to farmers but we have developed the mobile app to effectively work in Blackberry, iPhone, Android, Nokia, and JAVA enabled phones

Sustainability
Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

For Mobile Farmers to achieve so much within a short time frame, we are partnering with Federal Ministry Agriculture which has a strong database of over 10 million farmers; accessing these information at no fee from Mobile Farmers is a big leap into a major accomplishments on the project

Closing the Loop
How does your project primarily ensure that feedback delivers results?

Help funders, governments, and other organizations to listen to and act on feedback.

Please elaborate on your answer to the above question.

Government and funders approach to finding lasting and practical solutions to encourage smallholders’ farmers in Nigeria has always being the age-long traditional approach of top-to-bottom. That is, government provides fertilizers, improved seeds and seedlings, chemicals and extension services to these farmers but little is done to ask the farmers what is their peculiar challenges and as it relates to their environment, soil fertility etc which is only the farmer can authoritatively identify. Mobile Farmers is making a paradigm shift with bottom-to-top information dissemination and sharing.

Languages: In what languages are you able to read and write fluently?

English.

2nd Round Questions
Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?

The information involves analyzing farmers’ problems and stimulating innovations among them, identifying opportunities, offering advice, delivering and promoting new and or improved agricultural technologies, supporting and facilitating collective action among groups of farmers to enable relevant government Ministry, Department and Agencies in Agriculture tackle problems like food security, ensure sustainable use of resources, improved nutrition, wealth creation, equity, and poverty alleviation.

What is the purpose of your feedback loop?

Improve quality of programs

If other, please specify
What mediums or mechanisms do you use to collect feedback? (check all that apply)

SMS, Paper, Phone or voice, Physical gathering, Other.

If other, please specify

mobile app

Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?

Farmers will be informed through SMS to activate the Mobile Farmers app by dialing “*505#” on their mobile phone with any network provider to get started immediately. They will follow the simple instructions that will be replied and get their phones connected to our platform within minutes from the comfort of their homes. The information/feedback from the farmers shall be collected, collated and transferred to partnering organizations for necessary action. Furthermore, when we identify from our data center that there are some strong agrarian communities where there is low feedback mobile app usage; agents shall be sent for physical information gathering using tailored community specific questionnaires.

What mechanisms are in place to protect people from retribution?

Secured protection on information

If other, please specify
What are the immediate benefits or incentives for people to provide feedback?

Confirmation of use of feedback

If other, please specify
How do you ensure new and marginalized voices are heard?

Specific targeted outreach efforts

If other, please specify
What are the incentives for the intended recipient to act on the feedback?

They understand that feedback is necessary

If other, please specify
How does the feedback mechanism close the loop with those who provided feedback in the first place?

Meetings discussing results with providers

If other, please specify
How is feedback published/transparent?

Written report

If other, please specify
Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.

First, the introduction of the Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs) is a significant phase in the history of feedback in agricultural development in Nigeria. The experiment which started with World Bank funding, with pilot projects at Funtua, Gusau and Gombe in 1974 have expanded across the states of the federation. Today, ADP is a national program that have re-organized and revitalized agricultural extension system that integrates extension workers training and farm visits and ensures two-way communication between farmers and research. Also, ADP provides rigorous monitoring and management system that provides needed management information and ensures that errors in one project are not perpetuated there or in another project.
Secondly, lack of feedback loop in nomadic education failed to improve the literacy rate among 9.3 million Nigeria’s nomadic populations, the National Commission for Nomadic Education employed various approaches such as onsite schools, ‘shift system’ schools with alternative intake, and Islamiyya (Islamic) schools, to provide literacy education to its nomads. Yet these approaches by the commission have not notably helped to improve the literacy rate among Nigeria’s nomadic people because there is lack of effective monitoring and evaluation (feedback). Without effective monitoring and evaluation, effective implementation of new learning mode might not be realized. It may not be possible for governmental parastatals to ensure effective monitoring and evaluation in nomadic education. This is where non-governmental and community-based organizations must be involved. Nigeria’s Federal and State governments can enter into working agreement with these parastatal organizations to ensure regular, prompt, and up-to-date feedback on the monitoring and evaluation of the nomadic learning program

If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?

Farmers’ indifference to new project: Nigeria’s farmers may not wish or be willing to embrace mobile app feedback data collection. Such reluctance to adopt a new technology or innovation, however, can be mitigated through a well designed public awareness campaign and project mobilization strategies specifically targeting Nigeria’s farming populations. Indeed, it is a well known fact that innovations like mobile phones and mobile learning, typically take time to take root and take hold, to eventually become more widely accepted. The use of targeted awareness campaigns and project mobilization strategies, however, can help address issues of low and non-adoption of mobile feedback technologies among Nigeria’s farming populations.

What are your biggest challenges or barriers in “closing the feedback loop”?

Lack of funding for feedback data collection

If other, please specify
Are you aware of The Feedback Store?

No, but I would like to be on it

What are the main uses you can envision for the Feedback Store?

Well I see Feedback store providing a platform for reducing the cost of information gathering and dissemination and also provide real-time needs and solutions of within communities

What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?

The one thing is to increase the final winning slot from 1 to 3 to encourage more participation, even if it necessitates the winning prize to be shared.

What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?

Using education and public awareness, we sensitize the farmers on the gains of a sincere feedback. How it can bring the highly needed government policies and programs closer to the people and communities to improve their livelihood.

Comments

Okey Esse's picture

Nigeria can feed itself but poor information gathering and knowledge sharing have impaired the growth of agriculture in the country. Mobile Farmers will bridge that gap, provide up-to-minute information to farmers free of charge so that the once sleeping industry can AWAKEN THE GIANT in them.

Hoffman Moka Lantum's picture

Not clear if the app allows for two-way communication or it's unidirectional. What's the penetration of smart phones in the target segment? Otherwise, good to enhance savings to farmers through access to latest deals. Think of the Groupon business model for sustainability. FREE suggests limited value to farmers and an opportunistic approach to

randomness