Sri Lanka farmers seen reaping premium from mobile use

Oct 27, 2010 (LBO) – Use of mobile phones has helped Sri Lankan farmers get better prices for their produce and the technology can help reduce poverty, according to a new United Nations study, officials said. “There is an informational dimension to poverty – poor people need lots of information for their livelihoods such as on market prices, inputs, weather,” said Sriganesh Lokanathan of LIRNEasia, a think tank which helped prepare the report by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

A study done by LIRNEasia on small farmers in Dambulla, an agricultural centre in central Sri Lanka, found that 11 percent of their cost of production goes towards information search, “quite a high percentage,” Lokanathan said.

“Information communications technologies (ICTs) have a role in trying to bridge this information gap,” he told a news conference held to launch the UNCTAD report called ‘Information Economy Report 2010: ICTs, Enterprise and Poverty Alleviation’.

“Without it the vulnerability of poor people increases. ICT can give them pertinent information in time and as accurately as possible.”

A study by LIRNEasia this year found that farmers with access to ‘Tradenet’, a local service tha