Is there a place where we can take a look at the app that you are currently piloting? Hi Chioma we first did version1 which we did with 600 farmers just to understand dynamics and all the second version we are launching in October after elections are done in Zambia and we a new Minister of Agriculture ushered into office
Who is providing the information about the weather, soil and answers to agricultural questions posed on this app? we have soil association as a partner on the app and a weather analytics tool build by our Team
Can you tell us a little more about who will implement this idea? we as Fingertip are the implementors with a hybrid of Strategic partners i feel that is information we can fully in an email who the partners are and how so you understand how each partner is contributing to the efficiency of the app Is Fingertip Technology a company? (If so, with how many staff?) yes it is a company with stuff of 4 and hoping we will get to a certain level and can then attract financing to build a full team for funds are all personal that have been injected into the Business
What is the nature of the partnerships you mention - have they already begun? (If so, what do they look like?) the partnerships are diverse we have entities who want to support Farmer groups and see them become efficient and get market information including extension services hence buy them smart phones we have Mobile Money and Telecom network provider We have two banks which have been able to map Mobile Money to Bank this is for banking the unbanked We have extension officers from government this is for us to see the efficiency of the platform to their service deliver we have firms that provide inputs to farmers we have commodity traders we have two firms that provide transportation If they haven't started, what stage are you at with them? we have signed MOUs but full pilot implementation should In October as right now its elections campaign time in Zambia Launching such a platfrom may be termed political and also has given us time to finish some coding bits to the platfrom and test the integration
we have done prototyping with a test pilot of 600 Farmers of which we got a lot of valuable feedback and are now working on putting things in place to pilot with 10,000 farmers... we ahve equally responded to questions added
how are you and thanks for your feed back, interesting to know you are working on the agric space in zambia.
I would be interested in knowing how the back-end of this system works? For example, how do you ensure that prices are live and accurate?
we do not input the data we have placed the data input for pricing in the hands of the actual buyers and they provide the pricing just like Ebay works the account owner inputs the data to avoid any litigation issues that may arise as a result of wrong data captured hence they update and review the data every morning and close of day
How do you ensure that 'briefcase buyers' don't take advantage of the system and reach smallholder farmers? With the partnerships we have done for pilot we have brought on board credible players supported by MUSIKA but there is a feedback system that rates the buyer and seller so that people can have a basis to see all that are on the platform are operating within laid out norms and procedures
How do you get your weather information? we are feeding off weather platform that has already been built using an API. Also, how do all these pieces work together? weather is mapped to the time of year you are cultivating your crop or your animal production hence mapped to diseases or bugs that may be around and affect your yields at a particular time and what you need to do if conditions are in a certain way.
A second question I have is around bulk buyer willingness to interact directly with smallholder farmers. Is it realistic that a smallholder farmer will have enough capital to take his/her own crop directly to a bulk buyer? Will the bulk buyer be open to transacting with a smallholder farmer who doesn't have large amounts of crop?
we have put minimum and if the farmer does not have minimum they have to amalgamate using the cooperative and from there they are able to get a good price hence reducing on the risk of not having the desired quantities and its from there the cooperative can trade on behalf of the farmer groups and give them better returns
A third question is around sustainability. Who will pay to use the system or how is the system funded?
The payment system is all automated and we are using Mobile money were we have 5% commission on all transactions and we have ad placement fees for firms that want to put up services/ goods that farmers purchase we have a number of firms that have signed up already and we can show the viability, if you are in Zambia we can arrange a meet up As someone who works in the agriculture sector in Zambia with many smallholder farmers, these are the questions that immediately came to mind.
i hope the answers have resolved the questions you have but please feel free to ask and we can provide the answers where we do not have one we will say we do not have but we have put alot in the app as it has taken 5 years to get here hence has had alot of permutations around the questions you had hence being a hybrid to create efficiency