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Filed under: Development 2.0 Poverty

SMS on price of cotton

Who has access to information and who doesn’t makes a huge difference in the 21st Century. Those who have limited access to timely market information are facing problems identifying market opportunities and finding sellers or buyers.

This is especially true in agrarian economies such as in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan where more than half of the population lives in rural areas, with most working in the agricultural sector. Access to online market prices and information sharing are critical for sustainable development of agricultural production,

UNDP’s Aid for Trade project is supporting access to real time information for producers, processors, and suppliers in Batken (Kyrgyzstan) and in Khujand (Tajikistan) to improve market access, increase competitiveness and attract buyers. UNDP helped to introduce online systems SMS systems, radio stations and printed updates that share market prices and information on agriculture.

Web sites provide producers, processors, and suppliers with information on market prices of agricultural goods updated on a weekly basis, online advertisement spaces, business directories, and guides.

In Tajikistan, farmers and producers receive SMSs containing market prices during harvest time.

In Kyrgyzstan, UNDP helped set up radio stations in major markets and a hotline. We wanted people working in remote areas to be able to access information, and we learned that information services have to be tailor made in order to work.

The web site  in Tajikistan has had more than 45,000 visitors since it was made available in July 2010. In Kyrgyzstan, the web site in addition to radio stations and news flyers supported more than 1,000 rural producers to sell their products, and 3,500 farmers are regular users of the different products.

Considering the needs, the agricultural wealth and the overall potential in these two regions, information systems might not be the first choice of intervention for many people. However, it is important to realize that the ability to access real time information allows producers to make more informed choices, get better deals, and more importantly, link to other markets. If we manage to make these systems sustainable, ultimately they will be able to support self-development of the agricultural community.