Highlights from the GSMA mAgri Working Group meeting in Sri Lanka

On June 15th at 12:45pm the mAgri team landed in Colombo and headed to Kandy, Sri Lanka’s cultural capital, to host our second working group meeting to be held in Asia. Surrounded by beautiful green scenery with a lake at our feet, we kicked off our week with a grantee knowledge sharing day, uniting for the first time all of our mAgri Challenge Fund recipients in the same room. Also present, our donors, the UK Department for International Development, and partners, Coffey International, ALINe, Frog Design and Oxfam from the Global Content Partners consortium who were thrilled to hear about our grantees’ plans and participate in the content-packed event.

Day one was dedicated to project updates and an intensive business intelligence exercise led by Tegan, team’s business intelligence manager, and Frog Design. Tasked to produce recommendations for service design changes based on data, grantees took this exercise very seriously and showed an eagerness to be put to work. The level of energy and enthusiasm in the room built up on the first day successfully carried over the rest of the week.

The main event, the mAgri Working Group meeting, brought in 50 + participants including mobile operators, mobile insurance representatives, content creators and mAgri service providers from around the world keen to share and learn about the latest mobile agricultural practices.



BI Simulation followed by a Frog design break out session

Opening the stage of our working group meeting, Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, CEO of Dialog Axiata, reinforced the importance of linking the Base of the Pyramid and Top of the Pyramid for the creation of inclusive digital societies. Transitioning to the panel, our Programme Director, Natalia, introduced the first session on mobile financial services focused on Mobile Agricultural Insurance featuring ACRE Africa, Ignitia, Alterra and SANASA Insurance. From weather forecasting tools to a case study analysis on index based crop insurance service from ACRE Africa, the session gave a full overview of the market opportunity for mobile insurance in the agri sector whilst also highlighting some of the challenges to overcome. Closing remarks highlighted the wealth of open data sources that could strongly enhance current mAgri services offerings and the importance of assessing maturity of mobile money in a market before introducing mobile insurance. Following the dynamic panel exchange, we anticipate this discussion to be continued over the year as mobile agricultural insurance is still in its early stages.


Panel on Content Stylization

As we switched gears to an afternoon on content stylization, our very own Victoria sparked an additional layer of enthusiasm as she introduced a group activity on content stylization for mAgri services. Introductory presentations from Radharani Mitra from BBC Media Action, Phil Malone from Access Agriculture, Rachel from iShamba/Mediae and Avner Mizrahi from engageSpark, addressed the subject of turning scientific agricultural information into engaging, entertaining and interactive mobile-content. Breakouts led by the speakers showed a great deal of group creativity resulting in a diverse range of stylized mAgri content. Each presenter stressed the importance of carrying out multiple rounds of user testing in any content design and the absolute need to translate content into local languages for the service to have a chance to achieve its full potential.

On the last day, Daniele Tricarico, our new Insights Manager, successfully rallied the audience for a Friday morning session. He was joined by Ceyhun Cakanel from Vodafone Turkey, who shared best practices on scaling Vodafone Farmers’ Club , an Agri VAS which to date counts nine hundred thousand users! This was followed by a panel discussion around opportunities for mobile in agriculture value chains where we welcomed Virtual City, Mercy Corps Indonesia and SourceTrace Systems to share their experiences. After a dynamic Q&A session, the group embarked on a field visit to Matale, north of Kandy, where we had the pleasure of visiting an organic spice and cocoa producing centre and local farms.

With suitcases packed with souvenirs and spices, the team made its way back to the offices, excited to explore and continue collaborations with the group gathered in Kandy. We would like to thank all the speakers and participants for making this second mAgri working group in Asia a memorable and productive event. Our next mAgri Working Group meeting will take place in Cape Town this October. Stay tuned for updates!



Field Visit to Coopid in Matale, spices and cocoa processing center.