Farmers typically take loans to provide inputs for their farming needs and when harvest time comes, buyers usually buys the products at a low price. These farmers tend to sell their products at a low price or below market standard since they don't have easy access to pricing baseline. This kind of typical practice leaves farmers at a disadvantage. Only small portion of the total profit will be for the farmers and most of the time the middle men will have the greater portion of the profit. If we can empower farmers to negotiate the pricing level of their products through the use of an easy to access and on demand commodity pricing, they can move away from common practice of buyers being the one to demand how much they can sell their own products.
A typical farmer within the rural area might not have direct access to the Internet, or other advance technologies, what they usually have are simple mobile phones. There is no need for too much technologies for us to help rural farmers to have their pricing baseline. What we can do is to utilize a simple existing technology (SMS based messaging). The solution will provide an on demand pricing baseline rural farmers can use for pricing negotiation and vital information regarding market trends. Below is the solution framework:
a. Integrate data from the government sponsored market data collection activities for commodity pricing (Government agencies can utilize the Open Data Kit (ODK) and to lower the cost for the data collection system)
b. A system wherein farmers and farmer's cooperative can help push agreed commodity pricing to a server via SM formatted date frame.
c. A server to aggregate and analyze data by region, by province, by commodity and provide baseline pricing and market condition/trend (Open Data/Data Analytics) and to be able to push it as SMS
d. An SMS gateway server that will provide the mobile registration and farmer SMS inquiry
e. A web portal for commodity bulletin that can be used by local government unit (LGU) at the municipal level or barangay. An Internet kiosk (a low cost single board computer like Raspberry Pi with monitor and keyboard/mouse and Internet access).
f. Optionally, if most of the location still does not access to any GSM signal or coverage. Farmers can setup a group or cooperative to setup their own community cellular communication network. Farmers children can be trained to setup an open source GSM cellular network (like Fairwaves and OpenBTS technologies/can also pave the way for rural Internet access). In this way, the farmers entire family can be involved to help and the farmer can be slowly introduced to more technologies moving forward.
By providing rural farmers with simple and low cost solution (Agri-Commodity Bulletin/community cellular communication network) to have an informed decision (commodity pricing and market trend information) for their products. We can empower them to have negotiation leverage to sell their products and have vital information on demand.
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