On an otherwise reasonable evening, more than 1,000 people packed an auditorium in Boulder, Colorado, for the culmination of the 2012 Unreasonable Institute. They came to see 23 ventures present their solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.
Tambe Agbor, Founder of AMIS- Cameroon shares how his venture is bringing is connecting disenfranchised farmers in Cameroon with
AMIS-CAMEROON is an information service provider for farmers through SMS.We target the obstacle (access to information) that disconnects farmers from consumers. Farmers in the fertile Southern regions of Cameroon produce much food but end up dumping these because they lack the vital price and market information to maximise revenues from their yields. While the food Southern farmers take to market ends up feeding scavenging animals, the needy populations in the Northern region of Cameroon endure extreme hunger and starvation.
Furthermore in the absence of information about sustainable farming technologies, or advanced pest alert systems, the agricultural sector crumbles and subjects 14 million farmers to poverty, famine and the inability to send at least one girl child to school or get medical attention for themselves and children.We address the critical absence of a coordinated logistics infrastructure with partners from transport sector to ensure movement of products from farms in the South to markets in the North .
What is the urgent social or environmental need you’re addressing?
Agriculture is the major employer of Cameroon’s work force. Our economy is purely agrarian. Acute unemployment brings in over 40% of University graduates into full time farming. Together with their parents who depended on revenue from this sector for decades to send them to school, they make up 70% of Cameroon’s work force that should be reckoned with.
Today this cherished employer has become a cause for more grief than a source of relief. Families that indebt themselves to boost productivity have helplessly witnessed their fortunes diminish and their debts increase. Lack of information in the present networked economy is a harsh reality that Cameroonian farmers must live up to or perish amidst threats of an information dearth.
At a time when there is so much talk about sustainable farming methods, rural farmers continue to ignore the dangers of burning their farms. This problem is amplified when 75% of Cameroon’s farmers practice irresponsible farming thereby increasing the likelihood of desertification in the next 50 years. While this may be viewed as a local problem the effects are global.
What is your solution to this need? Describe your business strategy.
Interviews with farmer and consumer groups identified the lack of timely information as the central need. With lack of information, farmers can’t protect crops from pests until it is too late. If they are not trained to preserve the ecosystems then desertification sets in. Without access to current pricing they are scammed by rogue middle men. Consumers likewise need information to enable them choose from available options and make consumption decisions that enhance healthy living. We tackle this problem by exploiting handy & simple tools of communication & building logistic infrastructures with partners to deliver farmers’ products to 18million Cameroonians. It is an achievable feat which we can accomplish if you join us today. Our information hubs are located in the rural farming communities from where we gather product information and send via SMS to consumer groups who buy at current prices.
Our business strategy is simple:
1) Charge $10 monthly from businesses for advertising their products through every free SMS we send out to farmers.
2) Organize farmers into a cooperative & get markets for their products which we sell at 5% commission