DOUALA, CAMEROON - Information technologies are changing the lives of some Cameroonian farmers who previously depended on brokers to market their goods. Now, these farmers can use the internet to find customers directly, cutting out some intermediaries and increasing their own profits.
Loic Domguia raises poultry, selling almost entirely online and through phone apps. Through electronic sales over the last year, he says he has increased his income.
Domguia uses Jangolo Farmers, an application that links producers and buyers.
“It reduces the stress on the producer,” Domguia says. “The producer no longer waits until the end” worrying about getting customers. Producers “sleep well knowing they already have orders.”
Designer Rose Ngameni says Jangolo enables producers to line up customers before bringing goods to market.
"The farmer has a higher profit margin by selling through our application," she says. The app even enables producers to get paid in advance.
Ngameni says the app also benefits the customer. Reducing the number of intermediaries means producers hold down marketing expenses, so they can offer lower prices to customers.
Cameroon’s National Institute of Statistics reports that a fourth of the country’s 25 million residents connect daily with the internet.
Users increasingly are buying agricultural items online.
One of those e-commerce customers is Pierre Freddy Ngoudi. He says he places online orders for chicken because his work all day at a gym leaves too little time to shop. He has chicken delivered to his workplace.
Cyprain Tankeu, a specialist in electronic trade, says it’s smart for agribusinesses to develop online sales platforms. But he cautions that online sales may not always give customers sufficient information about purchases.
"If a company does not own stores, it would be difficult for buyers to evaluate the product they are buying,” he says. “… The lack of a store is an obstacle to the development of this type of e-commerce."
The African Development Bank estimates the continent has more than a billion mobile phone subscribers, creating a huge potential market for farmers to use e-commerce.