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    Improving market access and food security with ICT in Ghana and Uganda

    Nicholas Minot Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI

    Presented at the FoodAfrica Final Seminar University of Helsinki, 12 April 2016

  • 2

    Objectives of WP6

    Overall objective: Improve food security in rural Africa by using ICT to improve access

    to information

    Intermediate objectives: Estimate the impact of access to agricultural information on farm

    income and marketing behavior

    Improve market access for participating households in two countries

    Identify best practices for collecting and disseminating market information

    Develop local capacity for impact evaluation and promotion of ICT to improve market access & food security

  • 3

    Methods: RCT Baseline surveys

    Ghana: 1290 households from stratified random sample of northern Ghana, Oct-Dec 2011

    Uganda: 1440 households from stratified random sample from 8 purposively selected districts, Dec 2012-Jan 2013

    Interventions Provide agricultural market information, weather info, and

    extension info via SMS to random sub-sample of surveyed farmers

    Ghana: Esoko Ltd provides service Uganda: FIT-Uganda provides service

    Endline surveys Ghana: 1158 households from the baseline, Mar-May 2015 Uganda: 1418 households from the baseline, Nov-Dec 2015

  • 4

    Methods: Collaborating institutions

    IFPRI Nicholas Minot, Bradley Sawyer, and Samson Dejene Overall coordination, planning, analysis, & interpretation

    LUKE, Economics and society Mila Sell, Jarkko Niemi, and Jaakko Heikkil Planning, analysis, and interpretation Gender analysis of household survey data Willingness-to-pay module in endline surveys

    ICRAF Assistance in review of market info systems in Ghana

    ISSER (Ghana) Implementation of baseline and endline household surveys in Ghana

    Geoffrey Kiguli (Uganda) Survey consultant who organized the baseline survey in Uganda

    Esoko (Ghana) Provision of agricultural price information via SMS to selected beneficiaries

    FIT-Uganda Provision of agricultural price information to selected beneficiaries

  • Most farmers own working mobile phones

    Rapid growth in ownership of mobile phones

    In both countries, 4 out of 5 farmers owns at least one working phone

    Ghana ownership was lower but has almost caught up

  • Farmers feel uninformed about markets

    .. but dont use phones for market information

  • Agricultural market seem relatively competitive

  • 8

    Agricultural marketing Traders are by far the main buyers In both countries, close

    to 90% of crop sale transactions are to traders

    Negligible sales via cooperatives or directly to processors, exporters, or supermarkets

  • 9

    Agricultural marketing Place of sale varies between Ghana & Uganda In Uganda, 83-86% of

    sales take place on farm and at markets (usually in same village)

    In Ghana, just 25% take place on farm, 74% take place in market (usually outside village)

    May reflect lower population density in northern Ghana and/or smaller mkt surplus

  • Agricultural marketing Median market surplus ratio is about 36%

    Fewer farmers with no sales in Uganda (14%) than northern Ghana (28%)

    Median is 38% in Uganda and 34% in Ghana

    No clear distinction between subsistence and commercial farmers; full range

  • Use of mobile phones Ownership related to hh size, income, & education

    Households owning mobile phones tend to have more members, higher income, and more education

    Sex of head of household is not significant after controlling for other factors

    Probit model Dependent variable = mobile ownership (1=yes, 0=no)

    Ghana Uganda

    Household size +++ +++

    Farm size

    Log of per capita income ++ +++

    Female headed household

    Age of head of household - - -

    Education of head + +++

    Head can read

    Head can write

  • Frequency of opening and reading SMSs (2015)

    Share of farmers using it every week, most weeks, or at harvest was 85% in both countries

  • Usefulness of agric. market information (2015)

    Over half of farmers said it was very useful

    Over 79% said it was very useful or somewhat useful

    Higher level of satisfaction in Ghana than Uganda

  • Reason for saying that market information was useful (2015)

    In both countries, most common response were that info helped farmer negotiate a better price and decide when to sell

    Farmers in Uganda provided more reasons than those in Ghana

  • Reason for saying that market information was NOT useful (2015)

    Three most important reasons are 1) prices for markets that are not relevant, 2) cant read or understand SMS messages, and 3) sales were too small

  • Usefulness of agricultural production information

    59% or more found it very useful

    Farmers in Ghana rated their information higher than farmers in Uganda did

  • Usefulness of weather information

    Over 60% of farmers in both countries rated weather information very useful

  • Impact of mkt info on prices received

    Ghana No statistically

    significant effect of market information on prices received

    Uganda No effect

    overall, but prices of cereals and pulses significantly higher

    Ghana prices overall

    Uganda prices of cereals & pulses

  • Impact of mkt info on location of sale

    Ghana Significantly

    more likely to sell from farm or home

    Ghana location

    Uganda No statistically significant effect

    on location of sale overall

  • Impact of mkt info on marketed surplus

    Ghana No statistically

    significant effect of market information on marketed surplus

    Uganda Market info

    increases marketed surplus ratio by 7 percentage points



  • Summary Large majority of farmers (80%) own mobile phones in both countries

    Farmers generally do not feel well-informed about prices and markets

    Farmers often have the ability to choose among buyers (traders) and usually select based on price (not debt, monospony, or obligation)

    High level of satisfaction with the market information services in both countries

    Perceived benefits include helping decide where and when to sell and helping the farmer negotiate with traders

    Main limitations of the information service are 1) prices for markets not relevant to farmer and 2) limited ability to understand due to literacy or language issues

  • Summary (2) Direct evidence of impact of market information on prices limited to

    Uganda in the marketing of cereals (maize) and pulses (beans)

    Some evidence that market information increased likelihood of selling from home or farm among Ugandan farmers

    Market information may have contributed to higher marketed surplus ratio in Uganda

    Willingness to pay results are forthcoming

    Possible explanations for limited of price effect Measurement error in collecting price data

    Sample smaller than planned because of difficulting finding & recruiting farmers

    Some farmers sell only a small share of their crop production (14/28% have no sales)

    Farmer locations were randomly selected, some far from reported market towns

  • Implications for programs Government: Farmers need market information and are pleased with

    these services. Could consider subsidizing cost of subscriptions to market info service and/or supporting services with information.

    Development agencies: Farmer satisfaction and (limited) evidence of improved outcomes suggest need for investment in identifying best-practices, supporting information services, and helping information services take advantage of economies of scale

    Wireless providers: Farmer demand for market information and satisfaction with these services suggest that bundling service with wireless contract may offer competitive advantage in competing for customers.

  • Implications for programs (2) Market information providers (e.g. Esoko and FIT-Uganda)

    Should target farmers with medium-to-high marketed surplus.

    Need to address problem of relevance of market towns by increase coverage or focusing on farmers near covered towns

    Should address literacy and language issues with pictograms, increased language support, or call-in services

  • Implications for methods Research on impact of market information on farmers

    Reduce time between collection of baseline survey data and implementation of intervention

    Select farmers near market towns covered by market information service

    Additional effort to get good measurement of market prices and check outliers during interview

    Survey methods in general

    Computer-assisted personal interviews (CAPI) greatly increases quality of the data and speed of availability

    Touch-screen tablets more convenient and less costly than laptops with keyboards

  • Thank you! Comments and suggestions welcome

    Improving market access and food security with ICT in Ghana and UgandaObjectives of WP6Methods: RCTMethods: Collaborating institutionsMost farmers own working mobile phonesFarmers feel uninformed about marketsAgricultural market seem relatively competitiveAgricultural marketing Traders are by far the main buyersAgricultural marketing Place o