ZFU uses mobile phone platform to give farmers pricing data

HARARE, August19, 2013 (The Source) – The Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU), has partnered a Ghanaian Information, Communication  and Technology firm, ESOKO, to send out commodity pricing and related information to farmers countrywide using mobile phones.

ESOKO is a platform where messages can be sent to a large number of recipients at one go.

In a statement, ZFU said the platform was already operational.

“This development comes after ZFU trained staff members spread across the country on how to use the ESOKO platform to gather and send out information to recipients,” the union said.

“The platform that boasts of thousands of farmers in the data base, has since its inception sent out a number of messages to farmers informing them (farmers) of developments in the sector and weekly commodity prices on the market.”

ZFU said the platform was meant to fill the information gap in the agriculture sector.

“Realising the information gap in the sector, ZFU sought to bring together stakeholders; namely farmers, inputs suppliers and even buyers of commodities on one platform,” it said.

“This measure enables us as a union to strengthen the bargaining power of farmers, as they have fallen prey to middlemen who have been ripping them off when buying commodities.”

ZFU said the platform was poised for further growth, saying more than a thousand farmers had signed up for the service in the first week.

Apart from marketing information, the union said, farmers have been receiving weather updates and other relevant topical information on the platform.

Farmers have for a long time lacked access to information but with the ever changing global technology that is set to change.