SMS market information pilot project in Cambodia builds interest

SMS market information pilot project in Cambodia builds interest

Cambodia initiated a pilot project on an electronic marketing communication system
(EMCS) using short message service (SMS) technology in 2006-2007 to facilitate
communication and exchange between farmers and traders in remote regions of the
country. The EMCS provided information on market price, pricing trends, potential buyers,
product quantity, and product quality useful to farmers and traders. The project, funded by
the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), established the
EMCS-SMS server and trained farmers and traders to access it.

The SMS server and platform is capable of auto-reply to information-on- demand sent by
the mobile user using SMS keywords. It retrieves the requested information from a built-in
database and sends the requested information to the user. Thus, the SMS provides a two-
way information flow and allows PUSH and PULL functions enabling users to retrieve
market information 24/7.

Farmers trained to use the SMS technology became interested and aware of market
information. They appreciated the value of accurate and timely information. However, their
low literacy limited their capacity to work with text-based information and explained their
children helped them with the EMCS. Project results also indicated that the SMS applied a
simple interface with high degree of control and flexibility. It turned out to be cost-effective
for users and for the SMS hub manager. On the other hand, the EMCS-SMS project was
restricted mostly to the research team, traders, and silo managers.The results imply the need for policies in using SMS technology as communication tool linking farmers, traders, and silo managers. In particular,  the guidelines may be developed  on the use of EMCS and website as communication platform; capacity building to enhance farmer literacy on using computer-based or mobile technology; training of a farmer or village leader as a node for chanelling market information; setting up of market information bulletin board system in the community as supplemental tool; and scalability of the project in terms of content and coverage.

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