Monday, June 23, 2014

Mobile data helps Tanzanian herders get ahead of markets, weather

Kizito Makoye in the Thomson Reuters Foundation: Tanzania has devised a new system to help pastoralists and cattle traders track real-time market information on livestock, while keeping them abreast of weather conditions likely to affect their animals’ wellbeing.

The system allows livestock dealers to monitor prices and volumes in markets across the country, while being alerted to the onset of drought and diseases that could affect herds. The Livestock Information Knowledge System (LINKS) is an online platform that uses global positioning system (GPS) technology, text messaging and web-based computer analysis, providing information to pastoralists via mobile phones or the internet.

 “We decided to establish this system because we value the contribution of pastoralists to our economy. However, more education is needed to enable them to make better use of (it),” said
Saning’o Ole Telele, Tanzania’s deputy minister for livestock development and fisheries.

The project was launched in 2013, and so far 53 out of 369 cattle markets have been connected to the system, with a target of covering them all. Changes in trade patterns and market trends allow LINKS to identify and provide early warning of critical food shortages for animals, deteriorating grazing conditions and disease outbreaks.

The system - which is funded and run by the Tanzanian government in partnership with the United States Development Agency, USAID - monitors major domestic livestock, including cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys and horses....

A Tanzanian pastoralist leading livestock into the Ngorongoro Caldera for grazing, shot by Harvey Barrison, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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