Farmers Information Communication Management - FICOM - Uganda
Syngenta Foundation initiated the Farmers Information Communication Management project in 2005 with the aim of improving communication among farmers and their markets.
What is FICOM?
The Farmers Information Communication (FICOM) project began in 2005 and by June 2007 was a self-sustaining program run by the Kayunga District Farmers Association. Farmers were able to generate income, use business skills, and start new enterprises.
How does it work?
Important tips on growing crops are relayed from the Uganda National Farmers Federation headquarters to district level offices, and then to 24 'village phone centers', in which each farmers' group owns a mobile phone. The farmers also send and receive SMS messages with updates on market prices, saving at times a whole day's travel to market.
Loans for phones
SFSA provided a loan guarantee so farmers had access to capital from a local microfinance company to purchase a mobile phone. Farmers use village phones to sell units of telephone time to others for a profit.
The profits have then helped fund new income-generating enterprises, in one case, the purchase of two boats to ferry people back and forth across the Nile River morning and evening.