Welcome to the brand new mAgri Programme blog. We’ll be using this space to share our insights and our questions about the use of mobile phones in agriculture. It’s a relatively new area but an exciting one as rural communities typically involved in agriculture find it easier and easier to access a mobile phone while operators are looking at boosting their market share by attracting the huge rural customer-base.
The rapid rise of the mobile phone in developing countries has certainly caused a stir but issues associated with agriculture: food security, climate change and the demands of an ever-growing population, are also hitting the headlines.
In this blog we’ll be writing about the emerging solutions we come across in our work as we speak to and work with various stakeholders – mobile network operators, NGOs, farmers, donors, agribusinesses, certifiers and tech developers.
Of course, we’d love to hear from you and use this space for two-way discussion so please let us know your thoughts, questions and ideas (mAgri@gsm.org). If you’re running a service or programme which uses mobile in agriculture, please let us know and we’ll add it to our “mobile in agriculture map”.
As this is our first entry I’d like to briefly introduce the mAgri Programme team who will be posting their blogs here:
With experience of managing international programmes and a passion for the positive impacts of mobile technology, I joined the team as mAgri Programme Coordinator earlier this year. I grew up in Kenya and am fascinated by the home-grown mobile innovations that are thriving in developing countries.
Fiona Smith is the Director of our mAgri Programme and has several years’ experience managing rural connectivity projects with mobile operators in Asia and Africa. Fiona learned a great deal about the benefits of using mobile in agriculture as she worked for 2 years with the IKSL service in India, one of the first mobile agricultural information services to launch at scale.
Natalia Pshenichnaya is our Business Development Manager currently based in Nairobi. Natalia is originally from Russia and has experience of working for a mobile network operator, where she specialized in VAS marketing and product development. While helping to set up a helpline for farmers in Kenya (M-Kilimo), Natalia gained valuable insight into the challenges and best practice surrounding marketing, commercial sustainability and monitoring and evaluation of mobile solutions for agriculture.
Our Project Manager, Amol Jadhav is from Houston, Texas and has spent some time in Uganda where he served as a Micro Financing and Small Business Development Advisor with VSO. Amol has a strong a background in business development and marketing, and has specialised in entrepreneurship and new venture incubation at the base of the pyramid (BoP).
Both Amol and Natalia provide technical assistance to organisations that are applying to the mFarmer Initiative and will be sharing their insights on the business modelling, service design and marketing of agricultural value added services (Agri VAS) in the coming weeks.
Stay tuned for more posts from the team!