Mobile Phone Improvements in the Lives of Rural Mexican Farmers

Mobile technology has recently provided opportunities to developing countries that may otherwise not have proper communication infrastructure. For example, Mexico’s population is extremely dispersed; the large agrarian sector is based in rural regions that may not have access to ICT Infrastructure. This is where mobile technology has stepped in not only to provide an easier means to communication, but also to facilitate agricultural business.

One particular program, Zaca, has targeted the Mexican state Zacatecas to allow them to connect with other farmers and businesses to improve their income and potentially expand output. This article, “A Phone is Not Just a Phone“, mentions the possible spread to fishermen and other trades in similarly rural regions. This seemed to have a similar focus as that of the Indian fishermen using cell phones in this weeks reading. One issue mentioned in this article, that was not mentioned in the Indian fisherman article, was bank access and ability to retain and organize an increasing income.

This video goes into much greater depth about how Zaca functions in Mexico.

Mobile Rural Market Prices – Zaca: Tech Milestone 2 from nextlab on Vimeo.

To counter this issue, the NextLab program with MIT will introduce the Dinube system to Mexico as a way for the rural farmers to transfer funds. We read this week about Afghanistan money transfers and the risk that they pose for fraud and security. The main problem that led to fraud was the sharing of cell phones, so it would be important that each farmer have his or her own phone to prevent theft. Dinube is an international program that has also been used in America and Europe to facilitate secure banking.

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3 responses to “Mobile Phone Improvements in the Lives of Rural Mexican Farmers

  • cgalley

    Your point about the need for banks & ways to manage increased income reminds me of the development need which motivates microcredit institutions. It would be interesting to look at how microlending programs function in areas with more ICT access vs. in areas with less.

  • margaretvariano

    I think this program has a lot of potential, but I think it will be hard to ensure everyone has their own phone and there is no sharing. I think even if everyone did own a cell phone that may not necessarily prevent sharing and potential fraud. It is a tricky issue to combat, so it will be interesting to see how development programs deal with this in the future.

  • calliemedin

    Issues with fraud are important to address, but with any new technology comes people willing to abuse it. I think that the first priority should be access, and ensuring integrity of usage should come second. I’m sure that a simple application can be developed and integrated with this one that can help them to circumvent the potential for fraudulent use via sharing phones (i.e. discrete logins and identity verification, or something).

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