IICD helps farmers and entrepreneurs make better business decisions so that they can increase their incomes and create further employment opportunities for others. Market information via internet, radio or mobile phone can help them decide what to grow or manufacture, when and how to sell it and what price to ask for it. For more information, see our 2012 publication " ICT for rural Economic Development: 5 years of learning" or click 'read more' to see how groundnut farmer Saaka Mahaa increases his income thanks to our work and to see more examples of our projects that support farmers and entrepreneurs.
Agricultural cooperatives can work together to earn certification and to sell higher volumes for higher prices, and farmers and small businesses alike can boost productivity and quality by accessing expert advice and by using ICT to improve administrative and business skills. Saaka Mahaa is getting the right price for his crops. Most farmers in rural Ghana don’t know the current market prices for what they grow. They have to take what buyers will give them. But because Saaka gets daily market price updates on his mobile phone, he knows when to sell his groundnuts and at what price, and this means he earns more. Because so many of the poor are rural farmers, IICD’s work in economic development focuses predominantly on agriculture. But we also support local entrepreneurs and youth employment. IICD projects help get market and production information to local farmers and businesses via internet, radio, TV and mobile phone. Our projects also help strengthen administrative, marketing and business skills. We currently support 65 livelihoods projects in eight countries. Our work reaches more than 230,000 farmers and entrepreneurs directly, and through them 3, 3 million beneficiaries. How do we use ICT in Livelihoods (Economic Development)? In Bolivia, farmers get daily market prices via a radio broadcast that reaches 3.5 million listeners nationwide. This information is also available via the internet. Local extension workers are trained to use the information to help farmers improve production and income from sales. To enable farming cooperatives to qualify for organic certification, GPS and handheld devices are used to collect the required data. In rural Mali, the women’s cooperative Coprokazan doubled its income by using ICT to improve production and marketing of shea butter. Digital photos and PowerPoint presentations were used to instruct members how to improve production and quality of their product. Coprokazan also developed a website to market shea butter to new buyers from as far away as Canada and the US. Most rural farming families supplement their income by running small businesses: market stalls, food processing, carpentry. In Ghana, a “thin-client” network in the local computer centre offers 20 workstations to local youth. Here, they can learn the ICT and business skills needed to set up viable local businesses. Some 400 young business owners – mostly women – use the centre.