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Empowering Chilean Farmers via SMS

COOPEUMO, a grassroots farmer’s cooperative with more than 350 small scale farmers as members provides a number of services to farmers such as technical assistance, credit and training.  Last year COOPEUMO started a pilot project called DatAgro to provide SMS based information to farmers. The service started in April, 2009 has been supported by DataDyne, Federation of Agrarian Innovation, UNESCO, Entel PCS and two Chilean newspapers- El Mostrador and El Mercurio.

By providing information related to supply and product prices, climate conditions, and international markets; the initiative allows small scale farmers to align with the market needs. Thanks to the proliferation of mobile phones, farmers today have access to such information. ‘Last week I received one (message) about the weather so I didn’t plant anything because of the information I received and I planted yesterday, after the rain had stopped’ says Hugo Tobar, a farmer. Ninety percent of adults in rural areas of Chile have mobile phones. Farmers today consider mobile phones as a necessity and not a luxury.

At the heart of this initiative is the Mobile Information Platform (MIP), a technology developed by DataDyne. MIP is a platform to broadcast SMS based information to mobile phones. MIP works on the most basic mobile phones and on less-than-GPRS networks. The added advantage of MIP is that farmers can also subscribe to RSS feeds from interesting and useful internet sources by sending simple SMS text commands.

Mobile phone based services are not only easy to set up and easy to use, but also less expensive. Farmers in Chile required little training in using DatAgro. With mobile subscriptions projected to reach 5 billion this year, initiatives like DatAgro can create a positive impact on the farming community worldwide.

Image Source: DataDyne

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