Limpopo Farmers Sell Fresh Produce By Cellphone, by Lesley Stones

Thursday, July 7, 2005

The hand-embroidered skirts and bead-encrusted shawls of Makuleke village in Limpopo have been joined by an another equally decorative accessory — the cellphone.

Farmers in the rural community have become the first in SA to test a project giving them instant access to produce prices over their cellphones.

The farmers on the edge of the Kruger National Park have struggled to make decent money from their crops, not realising the tomatoes and onions they resell for a few cents at the local market were fetching multiples of those prices for middlemen who resold them at the produce markets of Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Now the villagers can check the going rate by accessing a farming website over their handsets. They can invite buyers to strike a deal for their crops via SMS, and see which fresh produce the tourist game lodges are looking for that morning.

Daniel Mashava does not look very dexterous with his cellphone yet, as he taps in his user name and password and picks the menu option for vegetable prices.

“If I can manage to use this now I have been trained, I can see the prices from home rather than go to Johannesburg with my produce before I see the prices,” he says. “I know how much I can get and I can decide to sell it locally if the prices are not worth travelling for.”
Story found here.

Source: Business Day