I was pleased to be in Zimbabwe for the start of a really important partnership that could be a significant turning point for digital technology in agriculture for the country. This led to the signing of an agreement with Econet’s CEO Douglas Mboweni, for Econet to assist in developing farming advisory messages suited to delivery over mobile handsets.
Econet Wireless is the largest mobile service provider in Zimbabwe with over nine million subscribers.
Mr Mboweni has recognized the opportunity for mobile phone technology to connect the fragmented group of over 100,000 small-scale sorghum and millet producers with production and marketing information.
We spoke about potential with regards to ICRISAT’s mandate crops, but also about ways we could use mobile phone technologies to help people in rural areas, where some seventy percent of the population live.
There is a real opportunity to use mobile money to integrate farmers into markets. Econet have a number of services, including Ecocash, the biggest mobile money service in Zimbabwe, and EcoFarmer, micro-insurance product.