Rural farmers do not always know the market prices of their produce. This lack of information makes them more likely to be misled by traders and may prevent them from growing appropriate crops if they do not know the prices of goods in different markets. Recently, there has been a rise of Market Information Systems (MIS) in developing regions that harness new information technologies to get information to more farmers faster. The impact of those systems on market outcomes has not yet been studied very widely.
CTED is studying the technology and economics of these Market Information Systems, and is working with Esoko, a company that uses mobile phone technology to send price alerts to the farmers so that they are better able to negotiate with traders and build better lives for themselves. CTED’s project focuses both on the impact of this technology and on developing ways to enhance it to help smallholder farmers in rural Ghana. The research project designs and implements a cluster randomized control trial in Ghana to evaluate the impact of Esoko’s MIS on farm-gate prices and livelihoods (household assets, children in school, etc.), farmer marketing behavior (search behavior, bargaining power, market contracts, etc.) as well as the trust of other market players, especially traders. Furthermore, CTED will gather data to find out how information spillovers and technology adoption occur among rural farmers in Africa.