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SMS Productivo keeps rural Paraguay in the loop (VIDEO)

 

Long distances on bad roads keep Paraguay’s small farmers physically isolated—but also cut off from market information and opportunities to improve their crops, pricing and incomes. This spring, a technological solution introduced by USAID’s Paraguay Productivo (PyP, managed by CARANA) is blossoming throughout the countryside.

No matter how far removed from city life, most farmers in Paraguay own a cell phone or live near someone who does. Through an SMS platform, farmers can now receive text messages on their phones as soon as information becomes available from local agricultural cooperatives, including prices, upcoming trainings and good agricultural practices. Meanwhile, technicians no longer waste time and cooperative resources travelling to the field to gather data from producers, who now submit their observations via text message.

Paciana de León, a small farmer and breadwinner for a family of nine, explains: “Now we receive information about upcoming activities or what type of products we can use to protect our crops from pests and diseases.” Producers can also use the system to place orders for supplies.

The first cooperative to work with PyP to bring this information system to their members was La Norteña in September 2010. Four others have already implemented the SMS platform and more than 20 are readying themselves to follow suit.

Published May 2011