The Revolution of Mobile Phone-Enabled Services for Agricultural Development (m-Agri Services) in Africa: The Challenges for Sustainability

Ezinne Merianchris Emeana, Liz Trenchard, Katharina Dehnen-Schmutz

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Abstract

The provision of information through mobile phone‐enabled agricultural information services (m‐Agri services) has the potential to revolutionise agriculture and significantly improve smallholder farmers’ livelihoods in Africa. Globally, the benefits of m‐Agri services include facilitating farmers’ access to financial services and sourcing agricultural information about input use, practices, and market prices. There are very few published literature sources that focus on the potential benefits of m‐Agri services in Africa and none of which explore their sustainability. This study, therefore, explores the evolution, provision, and sustainability of these m‐Agri services in Africa. An overview of the current landscape of m‐Agri services in Africa is provided and this illustrates how varied these services are in design, content, and quality. Key findings from the exploratory literature review reveal that services are highly likely to fail to achieve their intended purpose or be abandoned when implementers ignore the literacy, skills, culture, and demands of the target users. This study recommends that, to enhance the sustainability of m‐Agri services, the implementers need to design the services with the users involved, carefully analyse, and understand the target environment, and design for scale and a long‐term purpose. While privacy and security of users need to be ensured, the reuse or improvement of existing initiatives should be explored, and projects need to be data‐driven and maintained as open source. Thus, the study concludes that policymakers can support the long‐term benefit of m‐Agri services by ensuring favourable policies for both users and implementers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number485
Number of pages28
JournalSustainability
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution
(CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Keywords

  • mAgri services
  • cell phones
  • smallholder farmers’ livelihood
  • sustainability challenges
  • strategies for improvement
  • policy implications
  • Africa

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