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Cafédirect Producers’ Foundation calls on SomeOne/Else to help farmers in developing countries connect using SMS


By Gillian West | Social media manager

June 6, 2014 | 3 min read

Cafédirect Producers’ Foundation (CPF) has worked with SomeOne/Else to design a knowledge sharing platform that connects farmers in developing countries using SMS.

With only 7-10 per cent of the 525 million smallholder farmers in developing countries having internet access and 90 per cent having SMS access CPF came to SomeOne/Else with a working proof of a concept created to provide tea, coffee and cocoa farmers the ability to share knowledge and advice with one another.

“Small scale farmers around the developing world have great ideas, grassroots innovations, and generations worth of farming knowledge to share, but are often isolated with no access to communication tools,” explained Kenny Ewan from WeFarm.

“WeFarm is a genuinely unique and pioneering system that will enable farmers to benefit from each other’s knowledge and tips to improve their livelihoods…WeFarm has the potential to improve thousands of farmers lives, and do it in an innovative, bottom-up way that sources knowledge from the farming communities it works in. We’ve seen that small tips can make a big difference to marginal incomes.”

Launching this year initially in Kenya, Peru and Tanzania WeFarm will enable members to share their knowledge by sending a simple, local SMS message. Using the internet and a peer translation system WeFarm will then share this knowledge with other members around the world, meaning that a coffee farmer in Peru will be able to ask questions and share tips with other coffee farms around the globe.

Once signed up to use WeFarm farmers can submit questions to other people in the network by texting ‘Q’ followed by their query, this then directs the question to a selection of farmers who have the expertise to answer. The question also appears online and volunteer translators step in to widen the pool of farmers able to answer.

Warren Hutchinson, experience design director and founder SomeOne/Else, commented: “Sometimes a project comes along that reminds you why you love design and that you get to apply your skills for real and tangible human benefit…we’re extremely proud of what we’ve achieved with CPF.”

SomeOne/Else user experience director Gavin Edwards added: “As technology develops at breakneck pace, it’s a good reminder to ourselves that the majority of the world faces very different challenges and access to information. WeFarm has been a timely reminder that you can empower people without unnecessary overhead or complex tech. Simple is beautiful.”

While created for farmers currently WeFarm has been conceived in such a ways to be able to cover spin-off projects such as WeEducation or WeHealth. More countries will be added to the WeFarm service with it eventually becoming accessible globally to CPF’s network of 280,000 farmers.

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