Sri Lanka farmers connect to markets on mobile phones

Nov 27, 2009 (LBO) – A trial Sri Lankan commodity trade matching portal using mobile phones to improve marketing of farmer produce will need private sector investment to be sustainable, an official said. Chitranganie Mubarak, a Senior Programme Head of the Information Communications Technology Agency (ICTA), said the project is part of efforts to use mobile phone and information technology to link farmers with markets.

A high proportion of farm produce in the island goes waste owing to poor post-harvest processing as well as marketing links.

Mubarak said the trial service, at present free for farmers, uses SMS (short message service) to enable farmers to link up with buyers.

Buyers and sellers must register on the SMS-enabled commodity trade matching portal.

“The system matches the farmer or seller with the buyers. Farmers can send an SMS with what they have to sell, giving their location. If a buyer also wants the same thing the portal will do the matching,” Mubarak said.

The transaction is done off-line.

The system is on trial in the hill country Nuwara Eliya district through Sarvodaya, a non-governmental organisation.

“You need only a simple mobile phone to send SM