Technical entrepreneurs in Somaliland have launched a new mobile application to enable farmers to access market information and advice on their phones.
The agri-tech startup SAMS (Somaliland Agriculture Market Solutions) – a non-profit organization – developed the app called M-Dalag (mobile harvest) with funding from international NGO Oxfam Novib. The service, which enables farmers to call in and access voice-based information for free, is supported by Somaliland’s telecommunications provider Telesom.
M-Dalag aims to connect farmers directly with buyers, leading to wide market reach for farmers and reduction of losses of perishable farm products.
According to SAMS’ founder and chief executive officer, Faisal Mohamed, the system provides farmers with customised local crop advice and market prices, while also connecting farmers directly with buyers to ensuring the get the best prices for their products.
“The system is free. To register, the farmer just dials 315 to record a voicemail. They record their details including their names and products, locations to get contact with other users of the system. It does not need smartphones,” said Faisal.
SAMS gathers daily market prices, compared to the weekly reports of Somaliland’s planning ministry, which are available on the app.
Abdullah Jam’aQor-Ges, a vegetable farmer in Biyo-Ma’an, recently registered with M-Dalag.
“I only record a voicemail detailing the kind of produceI have to sell and my contacts. Then customers get in touch with me to buy the product. Now I save on transportation cost. Initially, I used to spend $20 to transport my produce to sell in the nearest market,” he said.
Abdullahi also receives daily market prices and advice on farming techniques.
“Previously, we had no information about handling farming problems. This system teaches us how to apply modern farming techniques,” he said.
Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, one of three agricultural experts working with M-Dalag, responds to questions from farmers.
“The farmers can record their concerns on the system by recording a voice mail,” said Mohamed. “If they dial 315 to talk to the expert, this number is connected to my personal mobile phone so that I talk to them and give them the suitable advice.”