Interview for The Guardian Sustainable Business
Series: The Role of Business in Development
Article: 'Have u tried cow dung?' Smartphones help Kenyan farmers text their way out of trouble
"...The commercial element behind many mAgri projects makes some in the development community nervous. “In the past a number of mAgri programs have served to advance the agendas of agribusiness and created high input dependencies to the beneficiaries of the programs,” says Alvaro Valverde, private sector advisor at UK charity Oxfam.
The application of ICTs in agriculture is "sustainability neutral", he says. “That is to say that ICTs are equally applicable to the expansion of conventional, high external input dependent agriculture, or to the development of more sustainable, agro-ecological approaches. A paradigm shift is needed to move us to a sustainable agricultural system, in which we can increase productivity while protecting the environment”
Partnering up with government agencies and nonprofit organizations is one way to guard against commercial bias, Valverde says. Cross-sector collaboration would also help overcome the problem of achieving scale, as well as avoiding the duplication that already exists among mAgri providers..."