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A voice-based system for Zakary Diarra, farmer and honey producer in Mali

Zakary Diarra, farmer, beekeeper and honey producer lives in a small village named Bokuy-Mankoina in the south-east of Mali. In his village there is no internet connection. Zakary’s communication is based on voice, phone and radio. Since a few years a new approach, introduced by Malian NGO Sahel Eco, has changed the life of Zakary. Zakary benefits from a new mobile voice-based trading service. The idea of this service is to help farmers produce and sell more tree crops, such as honey and shea nuts and shea butter.

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"Despite the food crises that affected the Sahel in recent times, food shortages are milder in areas with high density of trees. Smallholder farmers create more productive and drought-resilient farming systems by re-greening their lands." says Chris Reij from VU University Amsterdam. According to Mary Allen, from Sahel Eco, poor households can derive income from on-farm trees by selling tree produce like firewood, fruits, nuts and honey. Moreover, trees improve soil conditions and provide fodder for live-stock for a long period of time.

To improve the value chain of tree products, a voice-based trading service was built by developers from VU University Amsterdam, Web Foundation, and North-West University South Africa, together with the farmers, Sahel Eco and several village radio stations, including Radio Moutian, and Radio ORTM Segou, in a project named VOICES and an initiative named W4RA.

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Zakary collects offerings from neighbouring farmers to aggregate them into group offerings. Using this voice-based service the offerings of honey and shea butter can easily be broadcast on the local radio. This service was nicknamed RadioMarché.

I asked Zakary's opinion about this initiative. Zakary replied: "My income from the sale of honey has almost doubled in one year, between 2010 and 2011. I have more food stability than before this project, I am now able to pay schooling for my four children and I could even buy a cart and a donkey, last year.

Without this project, I would be doing mainly regular farming, and I would have missed this great opportunity of becoming an entrepreneur and really selling honey. I am also determined to expand the number of beehives, and I advise others in the village to do the same, so that we as a group can meet the customers' high demand, and increase our honey production and the volume of our sales. I am very pleased with this trading service RadioMarché, which improved confidence and collaboration between honey producers and sellers. I am also pleased to be a contact person for the RadioMarché trading system, as this role is highly appreciated in my village. Some people now call me "Sozakary", which means "Zakary of Honey".

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Info posted by

Anna Bon
|
30 October 2013

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