Sending 441 from farmers

Introducing Mobile Msika Wathu Program by Smart Energy Enterprise

Post was last updated: February 16, 2021

Sending 441 from farmersWhy the Msika Wathu Program is needed

In recent years, there have been a rapid growth of mobile phone networks in developing countries. Currently mobile telephony is the predominant mode of communication. A study by Global Economics depicts that in 2014 Malawi had 7.77 million mobile subscribers. This only shows how important mobile phones are to Malawians. The widespread use of mobile phones should add to more use of voice and SMS solutions as they offer easy accessibility. Malawi achieved the impressive growth rate of 46.2 percent of the mobile subscriber between 2014 and 2017. This wide usage of mobile phones has created an opportunity for Mobile phone marketing initiative in Malawi.

1)      Overall Objective

Mobile Msika Wathu Program aims at bridging the information gap between the smallholder farmers and agricultural markets in Malawi through the use of Short Message Services (SMS).

2)      Specific Objective

  1. Ensure improved access to price and demand information for farmers to diversify and bargain for better prices.
  2. Enable smooth trade by ensuring farmers and buyers to locate each other over long distances across the country.
  • Inform farmers about the agricultural microfinance organizations and their related services.

VALUE PROPOSITION

Most marketing platforms require smart phones since they use mobile apps and internet to link farmers to prospective markets. On the other hand, Mobile Msika Wathu program is simply using SMS system of delivering messages to users since the SMS can be sent or received on any mobile phone device. This will make it easier for the resource poor farmers who cannot afford to buy smartphones to also have access to a wide range of market opportunities across the nation and continent. Mobile Msika Wathu program will also provide the farmers with a variety of choices on where or to whom they can possibly sell their agricultural produce with regards to prices, quantity, quality and some other related conditions. The platform will also keep the farmers well informed on the micro financing companies where they can get agro-input loans and other forms of loans to enhance their productivity.

CUSTOMER PROBLEM

Malawi is an agro-based economy whereby agriculture accounts for one-third of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 90 % of the export revenues. Approximately, 80% of the population is rural and mostly smallholder farmers who are actively engaged in agriculture. Nevertheless, the agricultural sector in Malawi still remains predominantly comprised of resource poor, small scale subsistence farmers who face high transaction costs and have poor access to information that limit their market participation. Consequently, smallholder farmers turn to sale their hard earned agricultural produce at extremely low prices due to their narrow discernment and poor access to the agricultural markets. Vendors in Malawi have manipulated the agricultural markets to their own benefit by taking advantage of the smallholder farmers’ lack of knowledge on available competitive markets. Not only that, most smallholder farmers in the rural areas are not aware of various services offered by agricultural micro financing institutions in Malawi. Farmers need access to information about existing markets and other related information even before cultivation.

What is the Msika Wathu Program?

Mobile Msika Wathu program is built on the notion that Information is a key component in improving smallholder agricultural production and linkages to remunerative markets, thus improve health, rural livelihoods, food security and national economy. The program will provide a sustainable platform where smallholder farmers will be informed on the prevailing trends in agricultural markets and provide possible buyers for their produce as well as keeping the farmers aware of various micro financing institutions in Malawi.

This platform simply consists of Short Message Services (SMS) whereby the users will be required to subscribe to a short code in order for them to start receiving messages related to markets, micro financing institutions and related services. Subscription is in two terms as follows;

  1. The first one involves sending the word “Msika” to 441 in order for one to start receiving market prices updates and other related updates for various agricultural products/services from different districts across the country. This will enable the farmers and the traders to know when, where and what to sell or buy respectively. This service lets the farmers even in the very rural areas to have knowledge on the newly introduced services that might be beneficial to them and any related agro-market issues.
  1. The second aspect of the program helps the traders and farmers to buy and sell their produce respectively. For instance, the seller in Karonga might send a phrase “gulitsa mpunga Karonga” to 441 in order to be assisted. Likewise, a buyer in Ntchisi might send a phrase “gula mpunga Ntchisi” to 441 in order to be directly linked to the sellers. The phrase must start with the purpose (gula or gulisa) followed by a product (e.g. nyemba, soya, mpunga, nandolo, ntedza, chimanga etc) and then the place where the seller/buyer is situated (e.g. Karonga, Kasungu, Thyolo, Likoma etc). The farmers can sell their products from anywhere to anyone in this country and abroad through the platform. Likewise, traders should not stress on where or from whom to buy products because they easily locate them through us.

farmer using phone

How to use the Msika Wathu Program on your phone

  1. The first one involves sending the word “Msika” to 441 in order for one to start receiving market prices updates a first and other related updates for various agricultural products/services from different districts across the country. This will enable the farmers and the traders to know when, where and what to sell or buy respectively. This service lets the farmers even in the very rural areas to have knowledge on the newly introduced services that might be beneficial to them and any related agro-market issues.
  2. The second aspect of the program helps the traders and farmers to buy and sell their produce respectively. For instance, the seller in Karonga might send a phrase “gulitsa mpunga Karonga” to 441 in order to be assisted. Likewise, a buyer in Ntchisi might send a phrase “gula mpunga Ntchisi” to 441 in order to be directly linked to the sellers. The phrase must start with the purpose (gula or gulisa) followed by a product (e.g. nyemba, soya, mpunga, nandolo, ntedza, chimanga etc) and then the place where the seller/buyer is situated (e.g. Karonga, Kasungu, Thyolo, Likoma etc). The farmers can sell their products from anywhere to anyone in this country and abroad through the platform. Likewise traders should not stress on where or from whom to buy products because they easily locate them through us.

How to stop receiving updates from Msika Wathu on your phone

Chichewa: Ngati simufuna, tumizani mau akuti “LEKA” ku 441.

English: If you to stop receiving messages, send “stop” to 441.

Contact Details: Hazel martha phiri; +265 0995479131
Email: [email protected]

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