Assessing the Role of Mobile Phones in Offering Price Information and Market Linkages: The Case of M-Farm in Kenya
The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries 68(6): 1-16
16 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2015 Last revised: 11 Apr 2016
Date Written: 2015
Many farmers in the developing world have limited access to agricultural technologies and markets. Mobile phone-enabled services that offer price information and market linkages could contribute towards bridging this gap by reducing uncertainty about expected profits, information asymmetries and market inefficiencies. This article uses the example of the price information and marketing service M-Farm in Kenya to empirically test this potential. Findings from a survey of M-Farm users confirm that m-services offering price information can help farmers plan production processes better, but also show that the radio can be an effective dissemination channel especially at the early stages of production. While evidence on the utility of the price information to help farmers obtain better prices is inconclusive, resulting changes in cropping patterns and harvesting times are likely to have contributed to perceived income gains. M-Farm appears to have had limited impact on trading relationships. In terms of methodology, the study also highlights the limitations of relying on farmers' perceptions gathered through surveys when assessing the impact of m-services.
Keywords: mobile phone, m-service, M-Farm, agriculture, prices, marketing, Kenya
JEL Classification: O31, Q11,Q13, Q16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation