AS the 2012-2013 farming season shifts into gear, two local companies have launched an interactive electronic knowledge-sharing platform for the agriculture sector.
Report by Acting Business EDITOR
Known as eMkambo, the platform is a mobile and web-based facility integrating the use of mobile phones and the Internet to share information and knowledge as well as conduct agro-focused transactions. The two companies Knowledge Transfer Africa (Pvt) Ltd (KTA) and Afrosoft Holdings Ltd, said the idea was born out of challenges besetting Zimbabwean agriculture and rural development with regards to reliable, usable and timely information and knowledge for effective decision making.
They said a significant part of the available information was either out-dated or dispersed in various institutions, people and environments.
“eMkambo is an integrated platform on which we are gathering and making sense of information and knowledge from diverse sources in agriculture and rural development. It is designed to be an experiential service in which farmers and other agriculture value chain actors can receive and send information on their mobile phones or through email,” KTA chief executive officer and eMkambo founder Charles Dhewa, said.
“The platform aims to integrate all content currently scattered in organisations such as non-governmental organisations, parastatals, farmer organisations, government departments, commodity buyers, transporters, financial institutions and individual farmers. There is so much value in bringing all this information together and creatively interpreting it for various users.”
The development comes at a time the government has failed to operationalise the Commodity Exchange touted as a panacea to marketing challenges encountered by farmers on a yearly basis.
True empowerment and evidence-based decision making, according to Dhewa, depended on reliable information and knowledge. He said farmers, agro-dealers, processors, traders and transporters were desperate for meaningful connections with one another and with other value chain actors.
eMkambo is also set to enable policy makers, the private sector, financial institutions, input providers and other agriculture stakeholders to get their arms around hundreds of millions of decisions and decision makers involved in smallholder agriculture, small-to-medium enterprise business and agro-dealership who were only co-ordinated by the market.
About eMkambo facets
IT is a mobile short message and call service for agriculture value chain actors, riding on the proliferation of mobile phone service among farmers and other actors. It is a web-based market providing information on all agriculture commodities, including commodity prices, inputs and other services.
It is a mobile financial transaction service through which products identified on the market can be purchased and delivered to the buyer while the seller receives payment in real time.