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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

Providing mobile advice

Providing mobile advice

CABI works with farmers, mobile operators, content providers, extension services and industry bodies to provide mobile services across the whole agricultural supply chain.

The growth of mobile in developing countries, and rural regions in particular, presents an opportunity to deliver critical, information-based agricultural services directly to rural smallholder farmers. Access to the right information, absorbed and applied correctly, can increase productivity and improve livelihoods in many of these farming households.

Across the developing world, around 40% of people now actively subscribe to mobile services, with 130 million new subscribers every year, and mobile (2G) coverage is around 95% by population[i].

In addition, the number of mobile-broadband subscriptions in developing countries surpassed those in developed countries in 2013, reaching a total of 1.1 billion[ii]


[i] GSMA Mobile for development Intelligence: “Scaling Mobile for Development – A Developing World Opportunity”, 2013

[ii] ITU World telecommunication / ICT database (estimate), 2013

CABI’s Direct2Farm mobile-enabled agriculture information service is being used to underpin multiple agro-advisory services across India and Africa. A key feature of these mobile services is the ability to reach large groups of remote users such as rural farmers. They are therefore being used to complement existing field-based extension services operated by Governments and private industry.

Targeted information is being “pushed” out to farmers by text and voice message and farmers are able to contact agricultural experts via mobile helplines or use Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems to “pull” the information they need.

Not only can mobile services be used to provide information directly to farmers, they can also be used to gather information from the field. CABI has developed a data collection application that is being used by extension field workers equipped with smartphones or tablets to gather and process information from remote sites both quickly and efficiently.

The highlights of our work to date include:

  • delivery of agro-advisory services to around 4 million fee-paying smallholder farmers
  • creation of a core information product; a database of actionable agricultural extension information (factsheets)
  • development of mobile data collection application and systems to enable extension workers to gather and analyse field data
  • development of web based analytics and inference tools

CABI’s expertise in indexing and managing vast amounts of complex data, combined with our experience in agricultural best practice, soil health, and plant pests and diseases have allowed us to harness mobile solutions to improve livelihoods of smallholders worldwide.

Mobile case study

Woman using mobile phone

Smallholder farmers are often unable to access information or public advisory services on a regular basis, but mobile technology is providing an answer. With a growing number of the developing world's population now using mobiles (already up to 40%), CABI is enabling farmers to get timely and targeted agricultural advice. We are bridging the information gap that conventional public extension services cannot span.

Using mobile technology to help farmers make better agricultural decisions (PDF)

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