Potential benefits in 2020: • Additional incremental income for farmers: US$35 billion • Carbon savings: 0.5 Mt • Anticipated connections to mobile trading platforms: 133 million. Mobile could help farmers in developing countries secure better prices for their crops and improve competition in the supply chain through increased tendering. Isolated smallholder farmers often have to sell their harvest at the farm gate with little power to negotiate on price. Using mobile, farmers could access a marketplace of potential buyers online and achieve better prices for their crops. As farmers improve the return on their investment, they can afford more seeds and fertiliser and plant larger areas, boosting their families’ incomes. Similarly, a tendering platform could increase competition throughout the supply chain. Farmers, food aggregators, distributors, exporters and wholesalers could post and respond to tenders for contracts via mobile.
Mobile bartering platforms could help members of rural communities exchange goods, services and skills with each other. Agricultural labourers could find work on farms and growers could exchange surplus food after harvests. The three opportunities for promoting agricultural trade are: • The agricultural trading platform: an online marketplace for farmers to trade directly with buyers via their mobile phone • The agricultural tendering platform: a mobile platform for agricultural customers and suppliers to post and respond to tenders for work and agree contracts • The agricultural bartering platform: a mobile platform where community members can exchange goods and services with each other. Linking customers and suppliers across the agricultural supply chain to trade, tender or barter with each other could provide farmers with an additional US$35 billion in income in 2020. This is based on an anticipated 133 million connections to mobile trading platforms.
The agricultural trading platform Linking smallholder farmers directly with potential buyers through a mobile trading platform could help them to secure the best price for their produce, as well as promoting investment in agriculture and reducing food losses. Mobile trading platforms could help dealers locate new sources of food when supplies are limited and could help companies fulfil their commitment to sourcing from smaller and more diverse businesses. Smallholders in developing countries frequently get poor prices for their crops because they have limited access to markets, and inadequate storage facilities mean they cannot keep produce and wait for prices to rise. This results in low return on investment and inhibits adoption of sustainable agricultural production practices. Better knowledge of the market would encourage farmers to plant crops with better return on their investment, while more efficient markets could reduce food waste. Regional exchanges could combine to form country-wide trading networks, raising the profile of developing countries’ agricultural output.
Farmers in developing countries could use their mobile phones to access online commodity exchanges and trading platforms for agricultural products. Farmers could achieve better immediate – or ‘spot’ – prices than dealing with traders buying at the farm gate. With greater sophistication, farmers could buy futures or options at the start of each growing season, providing certainty on how much they will get for their crops. At the end of the season they can negotiate better prices for any surplus produce. The platform could be combined with mobile payment systems to confirm the transaction and could enable farmers to collect payments directly via mobile. Boosting farmer income encourages farmers to invest more each season in better quality seeds and fertiliser, and to plant larger areas for harvest. This could increase agricultural income by US$16 billion in 2020, based on an anticipated 56 million users accessing trading platforms via mobile. Reducing the number of trips to sell produce could lead to 0.2 Mt of carbon being saved.