Islamabad—The Australian Government-funded Market Development Facility (MDF) and Telenor Pakistan Monday signed a partnership to design innovative communications products for small holder farmers based in remote locations in Pakistan. Australia’s High Commissioner to Pakistan, Margaret Adamson, CEO of Telenor Pakistan, Irfan Wahab Khan and representatives from the MDF team attended the event.
MDF will use its experience of working with farmers and horticulture markets in Gilgit Baltistan (GB) to launch Telenor’s 7272 Prosperous Farmer Service (Khushal Zamindar) mobile service model in GB. Telenor’s technology platform and network coverage combined with MDF’s local farming and market knowledge will improve remote farmers’ access to vital information on climate, market prices and farming best practices.
MDF is a AUD9 million Australian Government private sector development program that is part of the Australia-Pakistan Development Cooperation partnership focussing on poverty reduction and gender equality, economic growth and agriculture development. “This partnership is a good example of how innovative approaches to agriculture market development can unlock opportunities for Pakistan’s small holder farmers. At a time when information is everything, partnering with the private sector ensures that development is inclusive and does not leave anyone behind,” High Commissioner Adamson said.
Telenor has launched a similar model in 36 districts of Punjab where farmers can subscribe to the mobile service and receive information about daily weather updates and farming advice in their local language. This is done through text and robo (in-bound) calls relating to crops in their location. Telenor also airs a weekly radio show through its phone service which features an agricultural expert who answers questions from callers.
Telenor Pakistan CEO Mr Khan highlighted the importance of the partnership in terms of helping Telenor offer attractive communications products to farmers based in GB.
“Telenor Pakistan is committed to empowering societies through digital inclusion and has ventured into the agriculture sector as it constitutes a major share of the country’s economy and hence it’s progress. Empowering farmers through providing contextualised and localised advice should help them in improving their yields and their livelihoods,” Mr Khan said. Since 2014, MDF has partnered with 31 Pakistani businesses in the dairy, meat, leather and horticulture sectors and is aiming to expand to 42 partnerships by June 2017.