Mobile phones have reached some of the most remote parts of the globe. Their rapid spread offers opportunities to improve the lives of small-scale farmers across the developing world. Indeed, companies have already started to capitalize on this trend by using mobile phones to help farmers to access information, banking services or virtual markets. This dissertation examines how mobile phone-enabled services (or m-services) could facilitate the participation of farmers in agricultural innovation processes. The focus is on Kenya which has emerged as a frontrunner in the development of m-services in Sub-Saharan Africa. The dissertation outlines the key factors that have helped the local innovation scene to emerge and reviews existing agricultural m-services available in the country. The in-depth case study of the Kenyan company M-Farm, which offers price information and marketing services via SMS and the Internet, critically examines whether the m-service can live up to the expectations. The dissertation also reviews current mobile technology trends to provide an outlook on potential future applications in the agriculture sector and beyond.
Doctoral Dissertation at the Center for Development Research, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Bonn, 2015.