Hi-tech cell phones help Africans trade crops

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Daniel Mashva heaves his sack of cabbages and sweet potatoes into a rickety shared taxi and travels nine hours under the scorching sun to the market in Johannesburg.

By the time he arrives, half his tiny harvest is rotten and the 48-year-old father of five returns to his impoverished village just a few pennies richer.

That was before new cell phone technology changed his life.

Mashva now dials up to a virtual trading platform on his new hi-tech phone and sells his produce direct from his small thatched hut on the fringe of the vast Kruger National Park.

“I check the prices for the day on my phone and when it’s a good price I sell,” he told Reuters from his village in the remote northeast of South Africa. “I can even try to ask for a higher price if I see there are lots of buyers.”

Mashva is one of around 100 farmers in Makuleke testing cell phone technology that gives small rural farmers access to national markets via the Internet, putting them on a footing with bigger players and boosting profits by at least 30 percent.

“Mainstream farmers have access to market information so they can negotiate better prices. This cell phone enables poor rural farmers to get that same information,” said Mthobi Tyamzashe, head of communications at South African cell phone operator Vodacom, which is sponsoring the project.
Story found here.

Source: Mobile Africa