There are over 500 million smallholder farms in the world. Most of these farmers live on less than $1 a day and are highly vulnerable to severe climate change and other factors that can hurt their farms. On top of that, many of these farmers do not have access to the Internet to learn about ways to help their farms or even to help other farmers.
One company, WeFarm, has developed a way to connect farmers without having to have an Internet connection. WeFarm has implemented a free, peer-to-peer service for farmers to share information via SMS, rather than through the Internet.
WeFarm explains how this works with a simple example: “Rose’s crops are suffering from a disease, so she sends a simple, free text to the local WeFarm number.” Rose’s question would then be posted online and sent to certain WeFarm members via SMS. From there, Rose would receive answers within minutes, according to WeFarm, without having to leave her farm or needing an Internet connection.
Because of the use of SMS, these farmers can use simple mobile phones to access this information. Especially now that over 90 percent of smallholder farmers now have access to a basic mobile phone. Over 290,000 farmers have registered with WeFarm. Of 387,000 questions asked, over 540,000 answers have been given. In the six years that WeFarm has been operating, they have made it much easier for farmers to access crucial information, with the only cost being purchasing a basic mobile phone.
As of now, WeFarm is only available in three countries: Peru, Kenya and Uganda. Their website even shows a live feed of questions as they are asked and answered, along with a map to show where the questions originate from.
Although WeFarm is still young and growing, they have created an extremely helpful concept that can be implemented in many parts of the world without an Internet connection. WeFarm has created a way – by using a basic mobile phone – to share necessary information at a low cost to farmers around the world; its success thus far brings hope that WeFarm’s progress will spread to other countries and help farmers all over the world.
– Rebekah Covey