The newly published Feb 2009 issue of ICT Update (47) features is dedicated to the topic of Market Information Systems, recent implementations and trends in their use in developing countries. ICT Update reviews many ICT4D projects targeted at the use of ICTs for the improvement of market access for farmers in developing countries. Some of the initiative featured in the issue include:
- National Association of Agricultural Producer Organizations of Côte d’Ivoire (ANOPACI)’s market information system called système d’information sur les marchés (SIM -ANOPACI). SIM -ANOPACI works through a network of village information centres (points d’information villageois, or PIVs) to gather, process and disseminate agricultural information. This includes prices, offers to buy or sell, availability of products and comments on market trends for particular products.
- Zambia National Framers’ Union (ZNFU) uses an SMS announcement service in order to inform rural farmers about market prices for their crops.
- Malian fruit and vegetable export organization, Fruit et Légumes du Mali (Fruiléma) use of GPS, cameras and computer technology in order to monitor mango harvests and their compliance to international quality standards.
- Coopworks, information management system for Kenyan milk cooperative. The systems assists cooperatives in their tracking of daily, weekly and monthly deliveries of milk by any farmers. The system can compile reports based on collection routes, farm location and regions.
- Kenya Agricultural Commodity Exchange (KACE)’s market information and linkage system (MILS). The system provides reliable and timely market information and to link farmers to the markets by finding matches for offers and bids on agricultural goods. The system uses market information points located in rural markets throughout Kenya.
- The use of FrontlineSMS for the delivery of market information by FIAGRO (Agricultural Technology Innovation Foundation) in El Slavador, as well as by Mercy Corps in Aceh for their service MarketInfo-SMS.
I was also able to write myself about ITC’s Trade at Hand initiatives. My article Encouraging Foreign Exchange is focused particularly on the pilot of the mCollect system in Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Benin and Ghana.
I shall be useing the newly available ICT Update information about market information system in developing countries in order to inprove the list of ICT4D market projects.
FARA (Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa) has published a current inventory of innovative farmer advisory services or systems (Innovative Farmer Advisory Systems using ICTs).
The inventory features currently existing projects, or projects in the design phase and intended for implementation in Africa. The reference it provides is extensive and includes projects concerning voice information delivery services, dial-up and reglar radio broadcasts, video learning and e-learning for basic skills and farming. The collection dedicates a whole section on “Extension Services Based on Mobile Phone and Database Monitoring.” That section covers many of the projects pursuing the implementation of mobile markets in African countries and listed in the section ICT4D Projects.
The FARA farmer information services inventory was created with input from the Regional Agricultural Information and Learning Systems (RAILS) group, the Knowlwdge Management for Development (KM4Dev), the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD), The Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development (CTA), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and others. The FARA inventory is certainly of considerable value for the mapping of projects aimed at the implementation of mobile markets for agricultural goods. Due to the comprehensive nature of the inventory I will shortly be updating the project descriptions in the section ICT4D Projects.
This week the Development Informatics Group from the School of Development Policy and Management (IDPM) in the University of Manchester publicised and made available a “Compendium on Impact Assessment of ICT-for-Development Projects”.
Parts of the Compendium appear highly relevant to the assessment of projects looking to implement the use of mobile technology within the context of marketplaces in developing countries. As far as I am aware many such efforts have followed the Project Goals methodology outlined in Section 2 of the Compendium, meaning that projects have followed a rather straightforward impact assessment involving the measurement of indicators consistent with the project goals.
Having been involved with theoretical Economics for a long time I find myself drawn to Cost-Benefit Analysis and Information Economics as evaluation methodologies for the impact assessment of projects oriented towards the development of technology-based marketplaces. Nonetheless, all of the eleven frameworks elaborated on in the Compendium have their relevance and application. I would be eager to hear your opinions on the matter. Which framework do you favour for the evaluation of implementations of information technology in commodity markets in the developing country context?