Evidence Insight: A Mobile Phone Directory Connects Farmers and Enterprises in Tanzania
Mobile phones have spread across developing countries without information services like phone books or switchboard operators. In Tanzania, AMA Innovation Lab researchers measured the impacts of a printed phone directory connecting small-scale farmers with agriculture-related enterprises.
Treated farmers significantly increased their use of mobile money, use of hired labor and sourcing of goods and information from outside the village with lower rates of crop failure and weakly higher output prices. Listed enterprises had large increases in business-related calls and use of mobile money. These results suggest directory services have substantial value for agriculture.
Lessons to Take a Successful Resilience-focused Research Project to Scales
New research results show that pairing drought-tolerant maize (DTM) with index insurance can have profound impacts on yields and resilience for small-scale farmers in developing countries but to scale the product bundle creates new challenges for local seed and insurance companies.
At events in Washington, DC and Nairobi, Kenya in November, 2019, the MRR Innovation Lab research team discussed impacts from Mozambique and Tanzania with partners from International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and local seed and insurance companies. While the project generated significant drought resilience for small-scale farmers, seed and insurance companies need support to scale the product, particularly where farmers have little experience with either improved seeds or insurance.
A Digital Game to Improve How Index Insurance Promotes Resilience to Drought
The game is simple. On a brown digital grassland with a single tree, tiny goats mill back and forth. When you decide how many of those goats to buy or sell and how many to insure, clouds float across the screen and one of two things happens: the clouds stop and rain falls, roughly doubling the goats and producing milk for sale, or the clouds move steadily across the screen and half your herd is wiped out.
The game is SimPastoralist, and it’s part of a MRR Innovation Lab project in northern Kenya that pairs a poverty graduation program for women and low-cost livestock insurance to promote resilience. The game gives pastoralist families who face a constant threat of devastating drought the experience of trying livestock insurance across many seasons. Also, data collected during the game is providing insights on how to design insurance that responds better to women’s needs.