Esoko’s Second mAGRIC showcase

magric 13 bannerBy 2050 Africa’s population is expected to double from 1 to 2 billion and there’s growing concern about how the world will feed itself.  Much attention is focused on Africa where production remains at about 20% of its potential. To try to harness this potential, dozens of technical innovations around mobile have been built both to help farmers produce more and make more money and for businesses to find African agriculture a more attractive investment. But the space remains opaque. To help the local community understand some of these innovations and learn the ins and outs about their rollout and challenges to scale we hosted the second mobile for agricultural development workshop –  ‘mAGRIC Showcase 2013’ this May. GIZ was our trusty co-sponsor.

The one day event brought participants from the software, agribusiness, NGO and mobile industries together. There was several presentations – the Centre for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Services (CERSGIS) showcased an online GIS platform to assist in locating farms, warehouses, and weather stations. Farm Radio International shared how they are using radio programs to reach out to farmers, sharing information to help improve their production. They also have radio on demand services where farmers who missed a particular program can call a number and listen to a recorded version of the program.

GIZ COMPACI showcased progress made with the African Cashew Initiative who are using radio programs to push forward new extension technology, as well as headway made in cotton production in Africa through the Competitive African Cotton InitiativeMOFA (Ministry of Food and Agriculture) presented the e-Extension project and its adoption, calling out the the ratio of extension officer to farmers and the rapid explosion of mobile phone usage in the country.

Continue reading

Esoko hosts Ghana’s first mAGRIC showcase

We hosted Ghana’s first ever mobile for agricultural development workshop dubbed ‘mAGRIC Showcase 2012’ on May 15. The workshop, which was sponsored by EsokoGIZ and the World Bank (WAAPP), sought to bring together NGOs, key practitioners, researchers, development partners, mobile operators, software developers, agribusinesses and government to explore how mobile phones may play a vital role in developing agriculture.

magricDuring the one-day workshop, over 80 people took part in the interactive discussions to share their stories, ideas and lessons learned, and to brainstorm on how to discover, test and build new innovations using mobile phones across the agric sector. Participants also shared what common lessons are emerging to help anyone choosing a solution or deployment path.

Topics discussed included the role of intermediaries in bridging the gap between farmers and technology (or if intermediaries are needed at all), the possibilities offered by public-private partnerships, and the issue of scaling up projects while maintaining their sustainability.

Continue reading

Esoko’s 4th Annual Partner Conference

Esoko being deployed in multiple countries across Africa presents unique and interesting challenges –  all specific to each country’s agricultural, cultural, mobile and economic environments. In light of this,  Esoko hosts as annual conference that brings together international partners to share ideas and learn from each other in person.

This year’s conference – the 4th of its kind – was held from April 23rd to 25th and included partners from Mozambique, Cote D’Ivoire, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, and Ghana.


Day 1 Highlight: Emerging themes in MIS

Esoko CEO Mark Davies reminded partners of the need to keep up to speed with current trends to improve the market information system/service industry. From Esoko’s point of view, there are three main themes springing up to drive the industry – global agriculture, mobile agriculture and market information. Under these, they key issues raised included:

Continue reading

Who’s behind Sudan’s MIS?

Under the Food Security Project in Northern Sudan, FAO Sudan will soon begin a deployment of Esoko’s web and mobile Market Information System as the FAMIS (Food and Agriculture Market Information System) portion of the overall Food Security project. This project is being implemented through the local ministries in the fifteen northern Sudanese states. The service will be known as Esook, ‘sook’ being the Arabic word for market, with ‘e’ added for ‘electronic’. These are some of the character behind it. 

Yahia Awad, MIS Manager

yahiaIt seems that Yahia Awad, the MIS manager for FAO-Sudan’s Northern Food Security Project (SIFSIA), has been on a clear trajectory in his career to get to exactly where he is today. After decades working inside the Northern Sudanese Ministry of Agriculture in various capacities and then years in the private sector at a large agricultural export company, Yahia has joined the SIFSIA team to lead the MIS component of the project, and most importantly, to make sure that the project becomes not only sustainable but also profitable in the end. His aim is to make the service unquestionably relevant for users across Northern Sudan so that in time there is a viable business in place; one that thrives because it is held accountable to the needs of its customers. His unique perspective and experience in the private sector help him to regard every decision and every bit of information with a different eye than most in his field. The success of any large MIS deployment is dependent upon, first and foremost, having a tireless and dedicated leader who has the ability to work with all facets of the local agricultural community with ease–farmers, traders, associations, businesses and government. In the very particular context of Northern Sudan this understanding is even more essential, and Yahia’s experience and presence of mind make the future of MIS in Northern Sudan look promising indeed. Look for Esook to go public with their MIS services by the end of this year, with Yahia quietly behind every strategic move.