Market information systems

Market information systems (otherwise known as market intelligence systems, market information services, or MIS, and not to be confused with management information systems) are information systems used in gathering, analyzing and disseminating information about prices and other information relevant to farmers, animal rearers, traders, processors and others involved in handling agricultural products. Market information systems play an important role in agro-industrialisation and food supply chains. With the advance of Information and communication technologies for development (ICTs) in developing countries, the income- generation opportunities offered by market information systems have been sought by international development organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and businesses alike.


Agricultural market information systems

There is a wide variety of market information systems or services. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries have traditionally emphasised the importance of information provision for the agricultural sector, a notable example being the service provided by United States Department of Agriculture. Such systems are widely used in order to increase the transparency and the volume of information flowing through the supply chains for different agricultural products. The ability of market information systems to provide a valuable service has been strengthened with the development of the Internet and the advance of electronic commerce (business-to-business (B2B), consumer-to-consumer, etc.). Industry structure, product complexity and the demanding nature of agricultural transactions are considered determining factors for the development of B2B electronic commerce in agriculture.[1]

Agricultural market information in developing countries

In developing countries, market information initiatives are often part of broader interventions and part of the agricultural marketing and agribusiness development strategy that many governments are actively engaged in. It's commonly understood that long transaction chains, lack of transparency, lack of standards, and insufficient access to markets for products has perpetuated low incomes in predominantly agrarian economies. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has a unit[2] focussed on agricultural marketing support, including through development of market information.[3] Donor organizations, such as the CTA, IICD, USAID, DFID, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are all focussed on improving the efficiencies within the supply chain through greater information provision. The recent surge of mobile phone usage in developing countries has provided an opportunity for innovative projects to leverage this new distribution channel to get critical market data into the hands of farmers and traders. Several projects by Reuters[4], Nokia[5], Esoko/TradeNet[6], KACE[7], Manobi[8], AgRisk[9] and others have demonstrated the impact that such information can have. Studies in Niger[10] and India[11] demonstrate the impact of cell phones in reducing price variations and creating equilibrium among markets. Introduction of internet kiosks and cafes that provide wholesale price information to farmers has been shown to enhance the functioning of rural markets by increasing the competitiveness of local traders in India.[12]


Supporting organizations

External links

  • Agis South Africa's Agricultural Marketing Information System
  • [2] AgRisk—India's Agricultural Market Information Services
  • Agmarknet Indian Government's detailed price information service on commodities (national informatics division)
  • Commodafrica Francophone African Service
  • DrumNet Supply Chain Financing Model working with farmer groups in Kenya
  • e-Choupals ITC's village information model in India
  • Esoko/TradeNet Connecting 8 countries across Africa
  • FAO PriceTool National basic food prices – data and analysis tool from GIEWS
  • FarmPrices Zambian Farmers Union Price Database
  • FEWSNET Quarterly reports from USAID's food security program
  • Infotrade provides current agricultural information to farmers and agricultural stakeholders in Uganda
  • KACE Kenyan Agricultural Commodity Exchange
  • Kalimati Fruits & Vegetables Market Development Board, Nepal
  • Manobi Pioneering private service based in Senegal
  • Nokia's Life Tools Partnered with RML in India, deploying icon-driven ag MIS services.
  • RATIN Regional Agricultural Trade Intelligence Network
  • Resimao Price Statistics from the official West African Market Price Agencies -online
  • RML ThompsonReuters Market Lite, with 150,000+ subscribers in two states in India
  • Trade At Hand ITC's project support for cell-based services.

Blogs and discussion groups

Further reading

  • "Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders," Avner Greif, (Journal of Economic History, 1989). (JSTOR)
  • “The Economics of Information,” George Stigler, (Journal of Political Economy, 1961). (JSTOR)

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