There are nearly six billion mobile subscriptions in the world today.
Four out of five new connections are happening in the developing world. Yet these markets suffer from numerous challenges in the agricultural sector, from low yield amongst smallholder farmers to inefficiencies across the supply chain. The GSMA mAgri Programme identifies opportunities where mobile can have the most impact to mitigate these problems. We are uniquely placed to bring together mobile network operators, agricultural organisations, NGOs, ICT professionals and donors to act on these opportunities.
The Case for Mobile in Agriculture
The agricultural sector in developing countries needs to be more efficient. In many countries, crop yields are almost 80% lower than those of developed markets. In addition, many of these economies are heavily dependent on the agricultural sector. In some African countries, this sector contributes to over a third of the GDP. Agriculture employs two-thirds of the work force in developing countries, the majority of whom are women. In some countries, 90% of labour force works in, or is dependent upon, agriculture. This represents a large market opportunity.
At the same time, rural teledensity in developing markets is growing at a furious rate and mobile network operators are keen to deliver products that offer real value to rural customers. Mobile solutions can transform the agriculture sector in emerging markets, and consequently impact the economies which rely heavily on agriculture as an engine for growth.
mAgri Programme Timeline
Since its inception in 2009, the mAgri Programme has supported two pilot projects in India (IKSL) and Kenya (M-Kilimo). These projects have successfully demonstrated that agricultural services delivered via the mobile channel can provide actionable, timely and relevant information to small-holder farmers. Case Studies are available on our website (http://www.gsma.com/magri/). In response to the opportunity identified, the mAgri Programme launched the mFarmer Initiative in June 2011.
The mFarmer Initiative
The mFarmer Initiative was set up to support mobile service providers, in partnership with public and private sector agriculture organisations, to utilise the mobile channel to extend the reach and improve the quality of information and advisory services for smallholder farmers in emerging markets.
Partners: GSMA, USAID and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Goal: By 2015 two million poor farming households will have improved resilience and decision-making as a result of enhanced access to actionable, high quality, relevant and timely information and advice through mobile phone service networks.
These services are delivered via sustainable and scalable business models without on-going donor support and reflect significant private sector investment. They complement other delivery channels, reflect feedback from farmers, and are based on a growing body of shared digital agricultural content.
– Sub-Saharan Africa: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia
– South Asia: India
Timeline: June 2011 – September 2014
Objectives of the mFarmer Initiative
– To drive scalable, replicable and commercially successful Agriculture Value Added Services (Agri VAS)
– To build services that increase poor farmers’ income and productivity
– To reduce the barriers for operators to launch or improve Agri VAS
– To test and prove models for delivering Agri VAS
– To promote a culture of knowledge sharing in the wider Agri VAS ecosystem
– Challenge Fund Grants to selected applicants of between $100,000 and $400,000
– Provision of digitized agriculture content via an online database
– Technical assistance to support the development of applications and the implementation of mFarmer services
– Sharing of best practices and learnings
– Qualitative and quantitative impact evaluation of mFarmer deployments
Resources are available at