Spotlight on VegOneX: Knowledge in the palm of a farmer’s hand

| June 15, 2015

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If, as the saying goes, “Knowledge is power,” then vegetable growers in the Arusha region of Tanzania just became a little more powerful with the launch of VegOneX—an information service which uses SMS and radio to broadcast local market prices for vegetables.

To get the best from the market, farmers need to be well-informed about supply, demand and price. In sub-Saharan Africa, farmers too often have difficulty getting accurate market information. Without up-to-date details on market prices, farmers may sell their produce for too little.

VegOneX helps to solve that problem by ensuring that vegetable farmers have the necessary information to make good crop management decisions and get fair prices for their crops.

Srinivasulu Rajendran is an agricultural economist at AVRDC, also known as the World Vegetable Center. He approached Farm Radio International with a plan to use radio and ICTs to get market information out to farmers. Dr. Rajendran explains: “Efficient market information has positive benefits for farmers, traders and consumers. Policy-makers can also benefit by using the information for forecasting, planning, and policy formulation.”

Vegetable prices are gathered and compiled on alternate days. Kassim Sheghembe is FRI’s ICT officer in Arusha. He puts the price information into a database which farmers can access with their mobile phones via SMS. The local radio station Radio 5 also broadcasts the price information to thousands of listeners on their farmer programs.

Mr. Sheghembe says: “We had already developed a service where farmers could Beep-4-inputs. They would send their location via SMS and receive telephone numbers of people who could supply them with orange-fleshed sweet potato vines, for example. We just adapted the system to suit AVRDC’s purposes.”

He adds: “Farmers also use the system to get information on the costs involved in actually getting their crops to market. This means they have more power to bargain and achieve the best price for their produce.”

According to Mr. Sheghembe, over ninety per cent of farmers who have used the service say they found it useful. He says, “The system is simple and can be opened so that farmers in other regions of Tanzania will be able to find information on their own local markets.”

For more information on VegOneX, go to:

Photo: Members of the VegOneX team, including our very own Kassim Sheghembe, bringing much-needed market information to Arusha farmers. Photo credit: AVRDC The World Vegetable Center