On 26 Feb 2009 the International Trade Centre (ITC) in Geneva announced the delivery of the project “Trade at Hand for Liberia’s Market Women,” funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. The project is continuation of ITC’s Trade at Hand programme which has been operational since 2006 and focuses on the use of mobile technology for the delivery of agricultural market information.
“Trade at Hand for Liberia’s Market Women” delivers to its end users a service of the participatory type, requiring from end users the contribution of content. The service collects from agricultural producers in rural areas information regarding the availability, location and price sought for different agricultural products. This information is delivered via GPRS to consumers and traders in predominantly urban areas. The market information service deployed by ITC in Liberia is characterised by the Mr Raphael Dard, the manager of the project, as a Liberian national “mobile marketplace” and a seed of a sub-regional one. Trade at Hand facilitates the search process of both, producers and consumers. Using the service buyers and sellers of agricultural products are able to identify an interested party at the opposite side of the market. As a “business matching information service” the Trade at Hand service deployed in Liberia is an innovative within the Trade at Hand framework. Prior Trade at Hand efforts have included the delivery mechanism, rather than the content generation. These include the delivery of international market price information, and the delivery of market alerts to end users in Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Mozambque.
The Trade at Hand poject in Liberia was realised in conjunction with ITC’s Liberia Export Development Project (LEDP). LEDP has developed a network of extension workers and enabled the delivery of comprehensive agricultural extension services within the country. Through its extension network LEDP has encouraged the production of export-oriented agricultural products such as spices (e.g. African bird-eye chilli pepper), coffee and cocoa. This network facilitated the initial deployment of the Trade at Hand mobile market information system in LIberia. During the deployment process extension workers took part in the process of training and subscribing 100 users of the system. These users included market women and rural farmers.