Impact in 2012 – a snapshot

Sara Maunda made $130 instead of $27 after receiving and using Esoko price alerts.

Sara Maunda made $130 instead of $27 after receiving and using Esoko price alerts.

As we come to the end the year, here’s a snapshot of how users are benefiting from Esoko across the continent.

In Malawi, Sara used to accept whatever price a local trader offered her. This time, she had an SMS telling her that less than 40 miles away in Lilongwe, the price for groundnuts which she was selling, was about .75 cents – more than 4 times the price a vendor was offering. She travelled to Lilongwe and sold 150 kg earning about $130 dollars after costs – if she had sold to the vendor she would have made $27 dollars. “I would have sold to him if it weren’t for the fact that I knew what the price was in Lilongwe through the messages I got from Esoko.”

In Uganda, Paul’s birds had cut their egg production from 69% to 40%. He received a message from Novus Neno Uganda and followed the nutritional advice. The results were amazing. “My birds can now afford to pay for their feeds and also pay something for my household.”

In Malawi, Land O’Lakes International Development designed 10-minute radio sessions on dairy production and marketing to improve waning milk yields, and used Esoko to set-up and deploy a series of SMS messages that informed isolated farmers of the program’s start times and reminded them of what was discussed. Through this, Land O’Lakes linked over 900 farmer-members to valuable farming and business information which they previously struggled to obtain.

And in Ghana, Mad. Grace used to buy 200 bags of maize each for GH₵70 in the Kwame Danso market (Brong Ahafo). It cost her GH₵7 to transport each bag to Kumasi (Ashanti). Through the ADVANCE project, she got an SMS from Esoko telling her that a bag of maize cost GH₵65 in the Ejura (Ashanti) market and after enquiries she realised that transporting each bag from Ejura to Kumasi would cost her GH₵5. Armed with this new information, Grace switched markets and now saves GH₵1400 on each round of trading activity.

Why Traders are Not Evil

cosmasMy name is Cosmas Kombat, and over the past 3 months I have been researching Market Information Systems (MIS), this particular one funded by GiZ/Market Oriented Agricultural Programme (MOAP) in partnership with Esoko to support maize traders in the Techiman market in Ghana. I wanted to share my new-found perspective on the relationship between traders and farmers.

Market Information Systems, over the past years, have been very useful in supporting businesses and value chains. But when we talk about MIS helping individuals, it is always targeted to small scale farmers. This of course makes sense, considering the information asymmetry that we always talk about–traders have more information than farmers, and they take advantage of that fact. But are we missing something? When I started the feasibility study on Techiman Maize Traders Cooperative Society, even I was a bit reluctant and not sure how traders could be supported with price and market information—especially to the detriment of farmers who are already disadvantaged.

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Esoko (and Hajia Talhatu Kudi) on CNN!

It’s easy to see why Hajia Talhatu was given a new last name by friends and co-workers in Accra—Kudi, the Hausa word meaning money. Hajia Talhatu Kudi started working in Nima market with her mother when she was just 11 years old; she later took over the business and has since grown it considerably, putting her boundless energy to work—Hajia is proud to say that she now buys and sells in metric tonnes what her mother began buying and selling in kilos so many years ago. Hajia deals mainly in cowpea, wheat, sesame and millet, travelling bi-weekly to Northern Ghana to purchase in bulk from producers, then hiring transporters to bring the goods down to Accra. She usually works with the same set of producers and traders, but says that she still needs to take these frequent journeys north to ensure that the goods meet her quality standards. Hajia says that finding new contacts and markets is something she’s always interested in doing, but that she needs capital to be able to grow her business outside of her regular contacts with whom she has mutual trust and works with on a credit basis. Hajia has five children, and is putting them through school with the money she earns as a trader in Nima. She shared her thoughts on TradeNet, as well as her infectious spirit, with CNN’s Inside Africa a few months ago.