The New Times (Kigali)

4 April 2014

Rwanda: EAX-Rwanda Urged to Alert Farmers On Prices By Phone

EAX-Rwanda could leverage the high rate of mobile phone penetration to share market information with farmers and boost trade in produce through the exchange, Nigerian agriculture minister Akinwumi Adesina has said.

Adesina who on Wednesday visited EAX-Rwanda, the Rwanda chapter of East African Exchange (EAX), said that sometimes farmers get stuck with big volumes of produce because they lack market pricing information and end up making losses.

Rwanda has a mobile penetration rate of over 63 per cent, according to statistics from Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority. That means that 63 out of every 100 people use mobile phones. Farmers can use basic features of the phone, like short message solutions, to access relevant information sent to them.

"We have more mobile phones today than television sets; so how we use the devices to let the farmers know where the markets and opportunities are and also where they can get subsidised inputs from is really vital," he said.

He added that enabling farmers to own phones and access good technologies would also prove vital in improving the value-addition chain of their produce. The minister said that continuous access to modern technology enables farmers increase output, sell more and also produce cost-effectively.

Paul Kukubo, the chief executive of EAX Rwanda, said that the exchange is looking at working with reputable actors to share market information with the farmers. He said the exchange will use a system similar to Kenya's mFarm, which gives farmers up-to-date market information and links them with buyers.

If implemented, this will complement the exchange's current Nasdaq electronic trading platform that can detect and link real-time global prices to ensure price transparency.

The EAX also acts as an electronic warehouse receipt system that collateralises produce and enables smallholder farmers to acquire credit from banks.

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