Recent years have seen an increased interest in market information services (MIS). Efficient market information provision can be shown to have positive benefits for farmers, traders and policy-makers. Up-to-date market information enables farmers to negotiate with traders. Well-analysed historical information helps farmers make decisions about new crops to grow and helps traders make decisions about the viability of interseasonal storage. Market information can also be used by planners to help monitor food availability and to identify shortages.
Market information enables farmers to make informed decisions about what to grow, when to harvest, to which markets produce should be sent and whether or not to store products. Recent ICT developments in developing countries, such as the expansion in the use of cell phones, have opened up the possibility for more speedy transmission of information. However, it remains essential that the information transmitted is accurate. The problem of transmitting reliable information on a sustainable basis has been faced by many MIS in the past. FAO is active in promoting efficient and sustainable market information services in member countries and can provide technical assistance for the development of such services.
FAO has collaborated with the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network to produce a series of radio scripts and plays on the topics of market information and post-harvest handling. These can now be downloaded from the Network's web site.
If farmers are to effectively use market information, they need to be able to fully understand it; for example, they need to understand the qualities to which quoted prices refer and the costs of transfering produce from their farms to the relevant market. Extension workers need to be in a position to advise farmers on this. Our Marketing Extension Guide "Understanding and Using Market Information" provides advice to extension workers and others on how to assist farmers in this way.
An MSAccess-based version of the FAO-AgriMarket software for Market Information Services is available on CD-Rom. This software is for the processing of information collected by market information services, prior to dissemination. It contains no other data.
Farmers tending gerber flowers in one of the greenhouses built at the project site in Mumbai.