ICTs/Mobile apps for Access, Distribution and Application of Agricultural Inputs


Organised by: IFDC, IWMI


The goal of this session is to share experiences in the development and use of innovative ICTs/mobile apps for access, distribution and application of agricultural inputs with the conference audience and beyond. The experts will present "discovery tours" of 4 innovative ICTs on agricultural inputs (water, fertilisers, fake inputs, value chain and supply chains) with useful "take aways", and a panel discussion on the user expectations of the ICT services.

Participants are expected to understand the features/benefits of some new ICT services for agricultural inputs; appreciate the need to have a portfolio of dedicated apps depending upon the content and targeted audience; and understand the technical, financial and human resources required to develop and deploy the ICT solutions that can improve farm productivity/income and generate revenues for the business.

Session participants will learn to avoid re-developing/launching the services, connect with existing credible service providers, and prepare to strive to get things working in the field. NB: Kindly bring your phones/ smart phones and possibly the location coordinates of your farm (latitude, longitude).

Nov 6, 13:30 - 15:00
Room: Ruhondo
Stream: Emerging Innovations

Sessions Chair


Chair of the session is Patrice Annequin
Senior Market Information Specialist, International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC)

Agro-economist (Ingénieur Agronome INA Paris ) with 20 years post graduation experience in private sector development, agricultural inputs markets, and agricultural market information services and systems.


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Presentations


Linking farmers to agro input supply chains from global to local levels through ICT


AMITSA is a multi-country Market Information System on agro inputs (fertilizers, seeds, and crop protection products) currently covering 9 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, namely: Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Swaziland, and Zambia. The main objective of AMITSA is to improve access to market and technical information on agricultural inputs to a wide range of public and private stakeholders along the entire supply chain (from agro input importers and producers, to agro dealers, to farmers and farmers groups). Launched in June 2010 and implemented by IFDC, AMITSA presents a unique set of institutional, technical nd functional framework and features. Ministries of agriculture, agro input trade associations, local projects and NGOs have been systematically involved during the set up process to identify the key agro inputs, agro dealers and distribution centers that AMITSA will include. AMITSA has trained a network of more than 250 private agro dealers who are sharing on a monthly basis, price information and sales trends from their own shops using web, android and Java applications; In partnership with the FAO CountrySTAT programme and local partners, AMITSA gather and publish essential statistics, directories, and publications. All data and information are compiled and shared on the AMITSA website and e-newsletters, with an increasing use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Integration of ImageAD solutions (MIPAD, mFarms, mSurvey) enables AMITSA to broaden its coverage to virtually every farmer and agro dealer in the region by adding the mobile dimension to the web applications. Prices and offers distribution, GIS and mapping options, surveying capabilities, mass and customized distribution of market and technical information by SMS are among the solutions that are currently deployed.

Organization : IFDC

Mobile solutions for value chain management


mFarms and MIPAD are among the ICT platforms used. The mFarms is an integrated and customizable ICT platform designed to help stakeholder in agricultural value chain communicate with each other efficiently, establish and maintain business relationships and manage the flow of goods and services among them.The platform consists of mobile applications (java and android and web applications). mFarms operates on a database structured to hold complete profiles, including geo-referenced locations  and cell phone contacts of each category of user or service.It addresses problems associated with production and purchase planning, production techniques and schedules, extension monitoring, estimation of production cost etc.It is being used in over 17 African countries by; Farmers FBOs Input Dealers – importers, distributors Aggregators Warehouse operators  Haulage companies Agro processors  mFarms can be accessed on www.mfarms.org MIPAD is an agro input data collection tool for conducting surveys, registration of agro-input dealers, input price collection, agro-dealer supply management etc. with the use of mobile phones and web application.It is being used in about 17 African countries to profile agro input dealers and to collect prices of agro-inputs on real time basis.

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Smart ICT for weather and water advice to smallholders in Africa


The overall goal of the IFAD supported “Smart ICT for Weather and Water Information and Advice to Smallholders in Africa” project is to empower smallholder farmers in Africa to make informed decisions in managing their land and water resources for improved productivity. A detailed user need assessment was carried out at four project sites in Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan and Mali. About 60 farmers at each of the sites received customised information allowing them to plan at the individual field scale not just what to plant and irrigate, but when the weather conditions will be just right for maximum success. Additionally, the farmers in Sudan receive forecast on the potential floods. This has hugely empowered the small farmers of the vulnerable communities. The project includes developing and employing tools that can monitor plot specific information from satellite measurements. It uses weekly/bi-weekly high resolution remotely sensed data and maps processed through improved SEBAL algorithm to estimate changes in vegetation index, evaporation/evapo-transpiration rates converted into a practical irrigation planner. Rather than providing very general statements on crop growth, now detailed and field- / crop-specific and near real-time information are provided on-demand through web platforms and SMS services. The service has now been rolled out for irrigated agriculture in pilot areas in Ethiopia (Arata Chufa), Egypt (Nubaria) and Sudan (Gash Delta). For the latter area where spate irrigation is practiced, detailed flood and hydrological modelling is also incorporated and flood information is disseminated in addition to crop growth and water use data.  Capacity building and support of the pilot farmers is organized by the project partners IWMI, eLEAF and DLV Plant in strong cooperation with agricultural extension and research partners in each of the areas in three countries. Next to the 180 pilot users who are intensively monitored, the project has attracted interest and users from other parties in the project areas: research institutes, government agencies and agri-business.  Using these new tools at their disposal, farmers can optimize their farm profits by providing water at the right place, at the right time and the right quantity. In addition, the communication between farmers, Water Users Associations, Irrigation Boards and the higher order public sector and private sector is improved with information provision using internet and other ICTs for undertaking actions. Though the full impact of the Smart ICT services is currently investigated, as the first pilot seasons are being evaluated, we see a great interest among the farmers and the concerned departments about the usefulness of such a real-time advice on one of the critical input, especially in the remote areas where extension linkages are weak or non-existent. Our next challenge is to convert it into a business model where the scientific institutes, ICT service providers, famers and government departments can work together to upscale the innovation.

More information about the project is available at: www.smartict-africa.com , and the country specific web platforms: Egypt: www.fieldlook.com.eg , Sudan: www.fieldlook.com.sd  ; Ethiopia: www.fieldlook.com.et

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Organization : IWMI

Using mobile phone technology to control fake inputs on market in Ugandan


Access to improved inputs is one of the highest impact scenarios for improving farmer productivity.  One of the chief constraints for a smallholder farmer to buy these inputs is lack of trust that the input is real and not a counterfeit product.  Smallholder farmers are risk averse – buying a fake product can mean financial ruin or worse so building trust in the efficacy of the inputs is extremely important.

Unscrupulous entrepreneurs produce counterfeit pesticides packaging and fill it with inert product, sell inferior grain as quality seed and palm gravel as fertilizer. Neither law enforcement agencies, the ministry of agriculture nor the private sector have been able to substantially reduce this illegal trading which, according to Felix Jumbe, executive director of the Seed Trade Association of Malawi, “makes the poor poorer”.

To eliminate counterfeit crop protection products in Uganda, International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) in partnership with CropLife Africa Middle East (CLAME) and CropLife Uganda (CLU), executed a pilot to scientifically test the effectiveness of the methodology that would help farmers better recognize authentic and original crop protection products (CPPs). Short Message Service (SMS) and “scratch-and-send” codes like those used to add minutes to prepaid mobile phones are very familiar in the African environment. In the pilot, scratch-and-send labels with verification codes were applied to Crop Protection product (CPP) containers sold through participating agro-dealers outlets in the Uganda test market. Using a variety of media marketing efforts, farmers were told they could finally purchase CPPs with a guarantee of quality.

The basic concept of the pilot was that, after purchasing the product, the consumer farmers would send their unique codes to an SMS number and receive a “fake” or “Genuine” response within seconds. But a real question remained. Would farmers be willing to pay more for genuine, verified products?

At the end of the pilot, the brands sold as Specially Market Packs (SMPs) - or as “verified Brands”- and offering the Mobile Authentication System (MAS) nearly doubled their combined market share within a few months. This success is highly notable considering that the Verified Brands retail for almost double the price of competing brands without the authentication features.

The pilot project described here in, using Specially Marked Packs (SMPs) with scratch-off verification codes and a Mobile Authentication System (MAS) combined with various media efforts, represents a viable option to protect the suppliers of genuine products. Even more importantly, the pilot has demonstrated the ability to rebuild the lost trust and confidence in the quality of certain agro-inputs among smallholder farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Eliminating fake products is a vital step if Africa is to become food secure. The tools and Systems tested in this pilot project in Uganda can play an important role in this battle.