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Data Services (Market Information)
Quality, Governance and Sustainability
Lack of accurate and relevant market information has been identified as a major obstacle in efforts to improve the agricultural sectors of African countries yet few African farmers, Governments, or service providers have access to such information. To address this situation, we have developed and field tested three different models of market information services over the past 5 years, designed to service the information needs of traders, processors and small scale farmers in the agricultural sector.
These services include:
(i) local market information service that aims to meet the specific needs of small-scale farmers and traders at the district or cluster of districts level; and
(ii) national market information service, that provide regular updates of countrywide market status targeting Government, national traders and food security agencies,
(iii) regional market information service that aims to support the needs of the formal and informal traders involved with cross border trade of high volume staple commodities.
These marketing information services have demonstrated that an innovate approach to the use of existing and new ICT technologies, combined with streamlined management services and a focus on relevant, timely and accurate data can be both effective and low cost.
The services work with a combination of existing Government staff, traders and NGO service providers for data collection and the private sector for data dissemination. Although the services at local, national and regional levels have been designed to operate independently, there are significant gains by integrating ideas and data flow channels within these services.
Management: The development of the new market information services in East Africa, primarily aim to provide a useful service, but also a management system that is sufficient agile and flexible to take on board new ideas as they emerge. Where possible we have built on and enhanced existing management and communications systems at the local, national and regional levels. However, where options are not available, we have worked towards building partnerships with actors having both competence and capacity to maintain new services at high levels of performance. The services can be developed through various forms including management from different agencies, the three main options being identified below:-
(i) Government operated
(ii) Hybrid operation
(iii) Totally outsourced
History has shown that many Governments find it difficult to maintain high level services to meet the needs of the private sector on their own, but our experience has found that a combination of Government, NGO and private sector partners can provide a highly effective partnership for quality service provision. The Ugandan local and national services are good examples of a hybrid model whereby government staff work with NGO / project agencies and the private sector in data capture, analysis and dissemination. In some cases however, particularly for more specialised information needs related to market intelligence, to support higher value, higher volume and niche market options, entirely outsourced services can offer more effective processes.
In all cases, the need for accurate, timely and value added information, requires a sound understanding of the market, a clear understanding of client needs backed up with well trained, motivated staff with close links to the target private sub-sector groups.
Having developed these types of services over the past 5 years, we believe we have the capacity to provide specialist capacity building and short longer term consultancy support to ensure that the technologies you use provide the right information to the right people at a sharp price.