New mobile app to improve market access for smallholder farmers
LUSAKA – This week, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Digital PayGo and Zambia National Commercial Bank (Zanaco) launched the Virtual Farmers Market mobile-based marketplace – known locally as Maano – that links smallholder farmers to buyers offering competitive prices for their produce, thereby increasing farmers’ earnings and income opportunities.
“Smallholder farmers are Zambia’s largest food producers, but they remain widely excluded from formal markets, keeping their incomes low and trapping them in a cycle of poverty and hunger, said Jennifer Bitonde, WFP’s Country Representative in Zambia. “The Virtual Farmers Market will help farmers access buyers and customers who would otherwise have been out of reach, improving their margins.”
The mobile app allows smallholder farmers to advertise their produce and interact with buyers anywhere in Zambia. It provides farmers with real-time commodity pricing, helping them get better prices for their produce. Traders countrywide are able to view the advertised produce, make bids and transact with farmers. Upon collection, the buyer verifies the quality and quantity of the produce before the payment is automatically released through mobile money or bank transfer.
“We are excited for smallholder farmers to use the Virtual Farmers Market, which will revolutionise how they trade, sell and grow their businesses,” said Mukwandi Chibesakunda, Zanaco Chief Executive Officer.
The Virtual Farmers Market can be downloaded using Android/iOS, web and USSD (*277#) channels in Zambia.
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