INFORMATION ACQUISITION: AT WHAT PRICE?

The power of information remains something we are yet to fully grasp. It has the ability to change ones life for the better or the worst depending on what road you choose to trip. Gone are the days when one had to go to a library to get information from voluminous books. Internet access is on the surge and mobile penetration is increasing at an alarming rate making access to information comfortable.

outside the mart

Gunac Rahman,Tommy Wilhelmsson and the Agro-Hub team.

Technology has made it such that we are but a click away from information. ‘Miss Google’ like we often called her at the MILEAD fellowship provides information for free. However, it still cost some a great deal of cash to get information.  Just a couple of weeks back, we got a call from Mr Rahman Sales Manager at GEMO FOOD, Sweden, wanting information on Cameroon’s agricultural production.
It cost Mr Rahman over 3000 Euros(almost 2 Million F.CFA) in 3 months to get information on Cameroon’s agricultural activities even so there was no success. This got me musing how much ‘Miss Google’ will be making if we all had to pay for the information we get or if many will ever be able to get any information because they can’t afford the cost.

At the office

Gunac Rahman and Tommy Wilhelmsson at the Agro-Hub office,Molyko.

With technology advancing by the day, I guess you are wondering just as much as I am on what he did with so much money just to get information. Sitting next to me in our small office space in Molyko, I listen to Mr Rahman and Mr Tommy of GEMO FOOD, Sweden recount their story on their struggled to get information from Cameroon. Numerous calls to the Cameroon Chamber of Commerce conceded no result on the rural activities. Just at the point when they were almost giving up, he stumbled on AGRO-HUB’s website and there it was! Finally, someone to talk to who had something to say about Cameroon’s agriculture particularly among the rural community.

In an era where information is power and at almost no cost, it’s scandalous when one has to pay so much to get information from my beloved country. When people with all the access to modern technology, search engines and complete network coverage pay so much to get information, I can only imagine the dungeon our rural farmers still find themselves in and the difficulties they face in accessing information.
When it comes to information sharing and access, there is no easier way to reach the rural community than with the mobile phone-by the way, the only requirement to access a mobile phone service is to possess one and have mobile network coverage. Assembling the cost of information, from planting to market demand make up a significant contribution to the total production cost. However, the emergence of mobile phone usage in rural areas proofs the mobile phone’s impact is enormous in the ability of the poor to access and share information.

at the mart

Gunac Rahman and Tommy Wilhelmsson visiting the Mart in Muea.

The problem lies at the cost of accessing the information, not only on the part of the farmers but also on the part of consumers and customers for it takes a fine eye and committed mind such as Mr Rahman’ who have seen and believes in the potential of Cameroon rural farmers to go to such length and spent that amount of money just on information when every other country has such on ‘Miss Google’ for free.

Innovative and vibrant ventures such as AGRO-HUB are making extra effort in bridging the gap that exist between rural farmers and consumers and customer. however it take more than just AGRO-HUB, but the combine effort of all agricultural stakeholders.
Still, what role is the Cameroon government playing in making information on the rural farmers available and accessible?

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