English (en) | Change Language


Abstract, Centre for Agroecology, 2020

The provision of information through mobile phone-enabled agricultural information
services (m-Agri services) has the potential to revolutionise agriculture and significantly improve
smallholder farmers’ livelihoods in Africa. Globally, the benefits of m-Agri services include facilitating
farmers’ access to financial services and sourcing agricultural information about input use, practices,
and market prices. There are very few published literature sources that focus on the potential
benefits of m-Agri services in Africa and none of which explore their sustainability. This study,
therefore, explores the evolution, provision, and sustainability of these m-Agri services in Africa.
An overview of the current landscape of m-Agri services in Africa is provided and this illustrates
how varied these services are in design, content, and quality. Key findings from the exploratory
literature review reveal that services are highly likely to fail to achieve their intended purpose or be
abandoned when implementers ignore the literacy, skills, culture, and demands of the target users.
This study recommends that, to enhance the sustainability of m-Agri services, the implementers
need to design the services with the users involved, carefully analyse, and understand the target
environment, and design for scale and a long-term purpose. While privacy and security of users
need to be ensured, the reuse or improvement of existing initiatives should be explored, and projects
need to be data-driven and maintained as open source. Thus, the study concludes that policymakers
can support the long-term benefit of m-Agri services by ensuring favourable policies for both users
and implementers.

Keywords: m-Agri services; cell phones; smallholder farmers’ livelihood; sustainability challenges;
strategies for improvement; policy implications; Africa