If you want to provide thousands of farmers in Cameroon with key agricultural information, how do you do it if you’re a small organisation with a limited number of staff? SMS is one way with significant potential. That’s why we’re delighted to be supporting AMIS Cameroon with a grant of £4,950 to support their AMIS-TXM system, which provides farmers with key information on issues such as weather conditions and market prices using Frontline SMS. Of course, SMS alone is no replacement for face-to-face contact. Luckily, however, building relationships on the ground is one of the specialities of AMIS Cameroon and their field workers have extensive and friendly relationships with farmers in the region.
AMIS Cameroon’s text messaging system is currently used by about 500 farmers, but they aim to grow the community to 3,000 by the end of 2013. Content is tailored to farmers depending on the kind of crops they grow – after all, advice on cocoa cultivation is probably of limited value to those growing corn or bananas! The system provides farmers with updates on market demands, links consumers and producers and provides reports on potential problems, such as pests and crop disease outbreaks. The ability to link farmers and consumers is an integral element of AMIS’s strategy. Not only does it allow farmers to sell produce that might otherwise go to waste, the system also allows AMIS to earn a small commission to support its SMS system.
We’re hopeful that AMIS will continue to grow over the next twelve months as they typify many of the qualities we look for in grantees. They have solid, on-the-ground relationships with farmers, have clearly thought about their own sustainability and are using a cheap, widespread and appropriate form of technology to achieve their goals. Everyone at Indigo would like to wish them the very best.