By Olimatou Coker
The Resilience Organisations for Transformative Smallholder Agriculture Project (ROOTS) Tuesday launched the Market Price Information System (MIS) for the agriculture sector at the Bakadaji Hotel.
The Roots Project contracted United Purpose to upgrade and expand the Market Price Information System originally developed by the NEMA Project, to enhance access and utility for farmers as well as buyers throughout the country.
The project’s goals are to enable vegetable producers (particularly women) to have regular market price information and climate advisory data for improved crop planning and selling of vegetables to improve incomes for smallholder farmers. The MIS works through market price collection, registration of farmers and access to Information.
Demba Sabally, the minister of agriculture, said the MIS is meant to address information gaps in prices as well as demand and supply.
“This is the first time we are launching such a strategically important facility designed to enhance the ability of rice and vegetable producers to make informed production and marketing plans based on their knowledge of demand, supply and price trends in the main markets around the country,” he said.
He said prices in the main markets around the country are among key challenges hampering market access for agricultural producers countrywide.
Minister Sabally added that the Market Price Information System will address information gaps in prices, demand and supply.
He outlined that the system will feature local languages such as Fula, Jola, Sarahule, Wolof and Mandinka.
“Eleven new markets have been added to the System, with 21 markets now being surveyed on a weekly basis across the country. For each Market, prices are obtained on a weekly basis for rice and vegetable commodities,” he added.
Mamour Aliue Jagne, Roots project director said the project is envisaged to improve production and productivity for the rice and vegetable value chains across the country with a specific focus on ensuring access to market.
“When farmers produce more than what they consume it has to go to the market. So, that is why we have a dedicated component in roots called access to markets headed by our business development officer. This market price information system fits within the access to market component simply because for the farmers to be able to sell they have to know where to sell. So, if they have information about market prices, quantities from Lumos across the country, they can make more informed decisions about the marketing,” he said.
Manfred Bojang, United Purpose program coordinator said the Market Price Information System is an upgraded version of the MIS system that was initially developed under the NEMA project in 2017.
“The project aims to enhance access and utility for farmers as well as buyers throughout the country. The primary goal of the project is to enable smallholder farmers (vegetable producers), particularly women, to have regular market price information and climate advisory data for improved production planning and selling of vegetables for improved incomes,” he said.
He said the system will provide farmers with accurate and up-to-date market information, which will help them make informed choices about the crops to grow and when to sell them.
“Additionally, this system will also help buyers to make informed decisions about where and when to purchase vegetables. The MIS is a voice-based system that is delivered in English and five local languages. It has two modules, data collection and data dissemination. The data collection module is enhanced with an Android Mobile App and a web interface for inputting market prices. The dissemination module is enhanced with a cloud base that handles incoming calls from subscribers and delivers audio information of the market prices based on the crops, the markets, and the language the caller has specified during registration,” he noted.
He said the system is currently covering 21 markets and lumos across the country.
“United Purpose works closely with smallholder farmers in the Gambia to help improve the stability of their income. We support them through improving their farming practices, access to portable water, new markets for fresh local produce and promoting farming as a business and helping them develop sustainable value chains through marketing federations,” he added.