Business Times

Farmers using mobile for crop prices make more : Study

A 2010 study by Sri Lanka-based regional telecommunications think tank LIRNEasia of farmers near Dambulla has revealed that those who had used the locally available TradeNet crop price advisory mobile service benefited from a 23.4% premium on average daily market prices for their produce. Additionally, farmers had also used this information to shift their crops to those of a higher value. This also follows a 2008 study by LIRNEasia which pointed to farmers spending approximately 11% of production costs for the purpose of searching for information.

It was also revealed that, while close to 90% of people in countries such as Bangladesh use mobile phones for entrepreneurial purposes, only about 50% in Sri Lanka use mobiles for any productive reason. It was further indicated that those who used mobiles for business in the local context made more money than those that did not. As such, researchers concluded that attitudes towards mobiles needed changing in Sri Lanka.

These details emerged at the launch of the "Information Economy Report 2010: ICTs, Enterprises and Poverty Alleviation", a US$ 500,000 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) project that, in its South Asian leg, encompassed a sample of 10,000 respondents spanning six countries. Further, this report made recommendations to policy makers on how ICT could be used specifically for poverty alleviation, including: expanding mobile coverage to areas with no mobile signal; monitoring how the poor are using mobiles by governments so as to build on findings; making ICT more affordable, in particular learning from South Asia's Budget Telecom Network Model; taking into account mobile phones when designing business support services and capabilities of poor users; etc.
Also noted by LIRNEasia, who conducted the study for the South Asian region, only television penetration was ahead of mobiles when it came to people at the bottom of the pyramid, or those making less that US$ 2 per day.

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