Supporting the Policy Environment for Economic Development
SPEED+

Paving the Digital Pathway of the Agricultural Market Information Systems in Mozambique

This photo was taken in Manica Province of Mozambique, in one of the markets in Gondola District. The woman in the picture is using a Smartphone to communicate with families and friends using audio messages. Alejandro Solis took the Photo in November 2019.

By Alejandro Solis and Anabela Mabota

Agricultural Market Information Systems (MIS) have been in use for approximately a century; in most developing countries, they were not fully promoted until the 1980s, although there were early pioneers, for example, in Indonesia, Nepal and the United Republic of Tanzania (Mawazo et al., 2014). In Mozambique, since 1991, the Sistema de Informação de Mercados Agrícolas (SIMA), has been operative and providing agriculture market information every week to public and private users.

In 2015, the USAID’s Report form Fostering Agriculture Competitiveness Employing Information Communication Technologies (FACET) project, separated the kind of available MIS into two generations based on their models:

  • The first generation focused on specific products (cereals, cattle, etc.), and collected price data at sample markets throughout the country, computed average price information, and then disseminated it for free. This model usually is managed by the governments and financed by international funds;
  • The second-generation incorporates other information like weather forecasts, input prices, trading platforms, and extension advice, and the technology powered all these new “features” as a cross-cutting foundation.

Following the first-generation model, SIMA has been critical and relevant for various multidisciplinary groups of stakeholders, including private and public users, different actors confirm the importance of it:

This is a clear demonstration of how SIMA has been impactful, even with some challenges, the system never stopped providing the market information as a public service. Given the market conditions in terms of price volatility and the existence of new communication mechanisms, SIMA’s update is urgently needed, or it would be doomed to disappear.

The USAID activity of Supporting the Policy Environment for Economic Development (SPEED+) initiated a consultation process with other key partners to better understand the current status of SIMA and also propose a concrete modernisation plan in conjunction with MADER.

After a series of debates and consultations, the sustainability issues keep coming again and again, and the question is, “What makes a model to be successful and sustainable?”

After doing some debates and an extensive analysis of the existing problematics and case of success of SIMA internally and externally, we recognise that the following five areas could be considered as essentials to guide the pathway to modernise it and ensure the investment:

  1. Commitment supported by a proven model: Commitment is built on top of a proven model to be sustainable;
  2. The efficiency of the MIS: the process to generate information for decision-makers must be optimised continually by doing it in a more efficient, reliable, and timely manner;
  3. Connection with the existing ecosystem and responding to real user’s needs: the MIS doesn’t have to do all products at all levels, have to find the best partners to connect the right users;
  4. Having the right technology with the right skills, connects the right audience: from open source to proprietary, from the internet to community radios, the right combination is powerful and stimulates the demand;
  5. The monetisation of the social impact: sometimes,too much focus is given to a business model, trying to sell products and services, and we forget the social impact numbers that contribute to economic growth.

 Today with the 4th industrial revolution, which brings exponential advances in the access to technology, for data collection, analysis, and dissemination, it gives a perfect space to rethink on the SIMA processes by looking at the complete landscape, defining a solid strategy to remain relevant and sustainable.

 Despite these advantages, in Mozambique, the uptake and usage of digital tools has been slower than expected; therefore, development partners like USAID can play a role in accelerating digital transformation.

 

References

 Mawazo, M., Kisangiri, M., & Jesuk, K. (2014). Agricultural Market Information Services in Developing Countries: A Review. ACSIJ Advances in Computer Science: An International Journal. Retrieved from http://scholar.google.co.cr/scholar_url?url=http://www.acsij.org/acsij/article/download/195/191&hl=es&sa=X&scisig=AAGBfm0MnW0G5INdjr8P0KmPfQNyy3VdnQ&nossl=1&oi=scholarr

 

USAID’s Fostering Agriculture Competitiveness Employing Information Communication Technologies (FACET). (2015). MIS Assessment for East Africa. Retrieved from https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/eatradehub/pages/1135/attachments/original/1438872151/MIS_in_EA_Assessment-Oct_22-Final.pdf?1438872151