There is a wide variety of market information systems or services. OECD countries have traditionally emphasized the importance of information provision for the agricultural sector, a notable example being the service provided by USDA. Such systems are widely used in order to increase the transparency and the volume of information flowing through the supply chains for different agricultural products. The ability of market information systems to provide a valuable service has been strengthened with the development of the Internet and the advance of electronic commerce. Industry structure, product complexity and the demanding nature of agricultural transactions are considered determining factors for the development of B2B electronic commerce in agriculture.
AGRICULTURAL MARKET INFORMATION IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
In developing countries, market information initiatives are often part of broader interventions and part of the agricultural marketing and agribusiness development strategy that many governments are actively engaged in. It’s commonly understood that long transaction chains, lack of transparency, lack of standards, and insufficient access to markets for products has perpetuated low incomes in predominantly agrarian economies. FAO has a unit focused on agricultural marketing support, including through development of market information. Donor organizations such as CTA, IICD, USAID, DFID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are all focused on improving the efficiencies within the supply chain through greater information provision. The recent surge of mobile phone usage in developing countries has provided an opportunity for innovative projects to leverage this new distribution channel to get critical market data into the hands of farmers and traders. Several projects by Reuters, Nokia, Esoko/Trade Net, KACE, Manabi, AhRisk and others have demonstrated the impact of cell phones in reducing price variations and creating equilibrium among markets. Introduction of internet kiosks and cafes that provide wholesale price information to farmers has been shown to enhance the functioning of rural markets by increasing the competitiveness of local traders in India.
Personally, we at our gin company’s office have a particular employee whose only job is to watch the markets and whenever there is a farmer’s cotton on the line that needs to be sold, the farmer is contacted via cell phone and can make the decision to sell or hold onto his crop for a little longer. This has immeasurably freed up the farmers and their ability to market their crop in our area. This is not just in our area, as most other parts of the country have something similar in place for their producers, whether it is for grain sorghum or any other type of row crop. I thing most of the animal producers have a different type of market approach for getting their product to the consumer.