2/3 of the world's poorest population are dependent on farming for their livelihood and are thus constantly threatened by volatile forces such as weather, natural disasters, and market forces.
These farmers in the developing world also lack proper access to food pricing information. Without proper information, rural farmers are vulnerable to over-planting, mis-harvests, or simply being lowballed on price.
The problem is twofold:
1. Rural access to both education and technology is limited. 2. Global data as collected by large organizations such as FAO may not be complete, as many local transactions fall below the radar.
In order to solve these problems, we have developed a system to enable rural farmers in developing countries access & share local food pricing data.
CERES is a platform that allows farmers in remote areas to seamlessly exchange commodity price information with their peers, allowing them to make better-informed decisions.
Since many rural farmers do not have access to modern technology, web & smartphone applications are impractical. However, "mobile cellular penetration in the developing world reached 70 per cent at the end of 2010" and thus, the most reliable communications medium is SMS (text messages).
Farmers interact with the service by using a simple set of commands such as "get maize Granada" (or the localized equivalent) and receive back a list of prices, nearly instantaneously.
Since SMS is limited in its ability to view large amounts of data at once, we've provided a modern, beautiful web interface for decision makers to view the data in aggregate.
We are confident that CERES is a landmark in the democratization of data for the poorest in the world.
The problems of price obfuscation in rural farming are very similar to other cash-based, offline markets around the globe. While it's early yet, we are very interested in applying our technology in those markets.
We are thrilled to announce our launch partner, Opportunity International - Nicaragua. Over the coming months, they will be piloting our application in rural Nicaragua.
We hope that you are equally excited to drive economic transformation.
The code submitted consists of:
- a website, implemented in Python/Django
- an SMS app, using the Twilio API
The website provides a map visualization and an administrator panel, while the SMS version allows simple posting and retrieving of data by mobile users.
- David Y. Kay
- John Oquist
- Dunja Saleh-Zaki
- Shawn Przybilla
- Markus Kalina