Mobile phones, services and applications. PCs, PDAs, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Internet, gadgets, electronics, photography. A technology-life journal ... Relaxed prose, sometimes witty, sometimes funny, reflective and insightful. Short and sweet. Filipino.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

3G, m-commerce and the farmer

I'm recycling an e-mail I sent to a Geneva-based professor yesterday. He wrote me after reading about my study on m-Commerce for microfinance. For his privacy, I won't publish his name. The point of this post is to share my thoughts, as I've written yesterday in Blog ang Mundo.
Professor writes:
> I'll be interested to have your opinion on (a) how you think 3G will help Philippine farmers...

Hi xxxxxxxxxx,

The Philippines is highly SMS dependent. On the one hand, we have seen numerous programs, services, applications that maximize the use of SMS. This is what Filipinos are used to and good at.

But on the other hand, because the Philippines has created so many ways of using SMS to serve our needs, I think the Philippines has also been very slow on making the transition to 3G. I think the large part of the prepaid market in the Philippines (around 85%) are still using phones that cannot do MMS/GPRS/e-mail.

I do believe that there are opportunities where 3G will be able to help farmers in the Philippines. But it will not, as yet, reach farmer-consumer level. I think it will happen first at the level where 3G will be a tool for NGOs or Government agencies in communicating the needs of the farmer.

Professor writes:
> (b) whether there are any opportunities for Philippine farmers to use m-commerce.


At its very essence, I think m-Commerce is there to speed up the transactions at all levels of the supply-chain. Thus, m-commerce would be able to help the farmer transact more quickly so as to shorten the turn around time for which his/her capital can be used to make profits.

One of the ideas that came up during my study was to establish m-commerce desks at various (physical) markets or ports. The idea is to create an additional conduit for traders to complete their transactions. I am considering turning this idea into a business model, something that I may pursue in the future.

Have you heard of b2bpricenow by Mr. Tedjie Herbosa. It garnered a World Bank award and grant circa 2003. The website allows markets to trade online. Furthermore, B2Bpricenow also added an SMS module where farmers could check for market prices in neighboring trading posts.

Recently, Globe Telecom came out with a weather service supposedly designed for farmers or fishermen. It allows farmers/fishermen to access 5-day weather forecasts. Honestly, I think the fishermen/farmers know better to just gaze at the sky or observe the insects, listen to the radio to be able to tell how the weather will be like in the coming days.

Moreover, there is also another service that gives market prices. This is likely to be more useful than the weather service. As for actual usage of these services, that is still something to be observed at the ground.

You'll find an article about these two services here: .

> I would like to quote you in my own next paper.

What paper would this be?

Feel free to send me more of your ideas or questions. I've found a couple of your writings too and will look through them.




  • At 2:56 pm, Blogger iandexter said…

    Hi, Edwin!

    I'm very interested in your ideas about using m-commerce, 3G, other mobile tech for Philippine farmers. I'm part of the Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture. Our vision is to use ICT as an enabler for Filipino farmers, hence our portal, the Pinoy Farmers' Internet. For now, we're deep into extension work and distance/online education, and we're also seriously looking into using mobile technology (SMS for one) as part of our toolkit.

    For mobile commerce, I don't know if this will qualify, but we have an ongoing project with ASTI on an SMS-based real-time seed inventory system where the farmer/buyer can query our database to look for the nearest seed dealer in his area. Seed growers and dealers, in turn, can update their inventories through text messages.

    We're also looking into using MMS in crop diagnosis. For example, farmers can take pictures of their crops and send it over to us. We will then escalate it to our experts or use the knowledgebase we are building to try to diagnose what ails the crops and what interventions to implement. It's just an idea anyway, as we have no idea *yet* how to implement M2M applications for this. (It'd probably require image processing mumbo-jumbo or something. :))

  • At 9:43 pm, Blogger Edwin "ka edong" said…

    Hi iandexter,

    This is one reason I like blogging. Because of the connections it allows me to make with people with similar interests.

    I am proposing an SMS solution for a DA project. It's an info collection and dissemination project. I'm still cooking it, still developing the model.

    Ian, do you have any stats on mobile phone usage by farmers?

    I also saw your blog and photos of your website on the pocketpc. Interesting! I still have to revisit and read more details. Actually, I have an old mental-note in the recesses of my brain -- it dates back to early this year and it tells me to revisit your blog! hehehe. This is the time to revisit.

    To more exchanges!

    ka edong
    farmer friend

  • At 9:47 pm, Blogger Edwin "ka edong" said…

    btw, iandexter,

    I had a similar idea for MMS tele-medicine. And tele-mekaniko. Using MMS messages to diagnose patients or to troubleshoot cars.

    Haaayyy... ang daming pwedeng gawin. Imagination nalang natin ang limitation.

    ka edong


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