Farmers throughout developing economies remain trapped in poverty despite billions of dollars of aid (US$6 billion/year) that have been spent over the past five decades to improve agricultural production and to raise their standards of living. This occurrence is due in large part to 1) the disorganization and fragmentation of agricultural value chains with respect to the availability of information and 2) absence of a cost-effective and robust system to deliver, and monitor the use of pricing data, inputs, and technical assistance services.
Esoko Networks Limited is a technology platform that helps solve this information asymmetry and integrates smallholder farmers into the formal value chain by providing a robust communications infrastructure that allows smallholder farmers to be reached quickly and served inexpensively through mobile phones, a medium that is ubiquitous and easy-to-use. The platform enables multiple stakeholders in the value chain to push critical information to small-holder farmers such as market prices, agronomic and training tips, while also providing the ability to survey farmers to understand their needs and desires.
Studies carried out to assess the impact of Esoko services revealed real improvements in farmer incomes due to services such as Esoko price alerts. This investment not only offers high social impact for small holder farmers, but in the longer-term, the platform has the potential to impact the information dissemination and overall efficiency of agricultural value chains in Sub-Saharan Africa.