By William Yang
Mercy Corps’ Agri-Fin Mobile in Zimbabwe signed an MoU with Zimbabwe Farmer’s Union last week. The MoU allows the two organizations to join arms to improve information-sharing with more than 180,000 smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Farmer’s Union will represent the voice of the farmers in the development of products and their role also strengthens Agri-Fin Mobile’s engagement with farmers. This also means that the Farmer’s Union can express farmers’ needs, from information financial services to marketing, more effectively. Through the Farmer’s Union, Agri-Fin Mobile can address the needs of specific farmers more directly.
In addition to being the middle-point between Agri-Fin Mobile and smallholder farmers, the MoU also allows the Farmer’s Union to provide direct input to the content. As Agri-Fin Mobile is planning to establish a data-base that can transfer useful information to farmers’ mobile phone directly, the Farmer’s Union will be part of the content development team, identifying areas that desperately need more information. With their direct exposure to smallholder farmers’ situation, the Farmer’s Union will also provide their own information to the content.
“The Farmer’s Union will act as ambassadors and link Agri-Fin Mobile to the market and the farmers directly,” said Mildred Makore, product and marketing specialist of Agri-Fin Mobile in Zimbabwe. “They will be the influence to facilitate changes overtime.”
Besides, Agri-Fin Mobile can also have access to information about farmers that have registered with the Farmer’s Union. Agri-Fin Mobile will use the information to justify the background of activities that need to be addressed. Ultimately, the Farmer’s Union can also bring a level of sustainability to the program as they extend the program beyond Mercy Corps.