The market for mobile phones is growing more quickly in Africa than anywhere else in the world. Because of a lack of vital telecommunications infrastructure, mobile phone technology is often the only means of communication for farmers working in rural areas of Africa (although new underwater broadband cables are changing this – read here).
According to a recent article in the New York Times, Ugandan banana farmers are making use of their mobile phones to share information about the spread of two banana diseases that have destroying their crops over the past few years. These diseases have threatened the crops of 30 million farmers and have caused between $70 million to $200 million annually.
Through a partnership with the Grameen Foundation and Uganda’s main mobile network provider MTN, farmers are taking photos of crops and sending farmer reports to scientists in the Ugandan capital of Kampala to analyse. In return, these scientists send back updates about where these diseases have spread and how to best combat them.
This programme represents just one of the many creative ways which mobile phones are helping to deliver knowledge to remote areas. And as Africa’s broadband internet connectivity improves, the possibility for mobile phone services which make use of the web should also grow.