The Agri-Fin Mobile program and 8villages have launched an information and knowledge service for smallholder farmers in Indonesia called LISA (Farmers Information Service) that will be rolled out in the 30 districts of Karawang.
The launch which received support from the Agricultural Extension Center, Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Extension and Human Resource Development and the Ministry of Agriculture follows the outcomes of the baseline and product development research carried out by Mercy Corps in August 2012.
The research noted a number of challenges that Indonesia’s smallholder farmers are currently facing in relation to improved production and increasing their incomes. Some of the problems include lack of access to information, finance and markets.
LISA is a mobile phone subscription service that allows farmers to interact with other corresponding community groups based on their crops and location. Inside that group, users get daily SMS tips from 8villages and other local user-generated content. Users are also able to ask their own questions and get them answered either by other farmers or by agricultural experts from 8villages’ partners. This all works without the need for an internet connection.
One major challenge that LISA has been designed to address is the irregularity of agricultural information reaching the farmers and to begin to build the trust that has been lost between farmers and extension workers. As noted by the Head of the Karawang District Agricultural Extension Agency, Mr. Khadarisman, “LISA will help extension workers in their duty of conveying up-to-date information, while at the same time encourage farmers to network with extension workers to share information and experience with other farmers.”
According to 8villages Chief Executive Officer Mathieu Le Bras, the cooperation with the Agri-Fin Mobile program was fruitful in rolling out LISA to farmers and extension workers. Mathieu added that 8villages will continue to develop LISA so that it meets the needs of farmers and extension workers and is ready to be rolled out in other regions. Through this cooperation and with support from the Agricultural Extension Center of the Ministry of Agriculture, it is hoped that by the end of May 2013 an additional 9,000 new farmers will have registered and 1,500 extension workers will have been trained so that the LISA rollout can be conducted in other regions.
The launch was attended by farmers and agricultural extension workers from Cilamaya Wetan and Jatisari Sub-districts and representatives from the Agricultural Extension Center, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Karawang District Agricultural Extension Agency, Agriculture Department of Bogor Agricultural University, Telkomsel, 8villages, and Mercy Corps.