|Market monitor loading data for transmission through SMS
||Pastoralists in remote markets use SMS to access prices from NLMIS
||President Obama (then Senator) is shown how the system works
Beginning 2003, USAID funded the then Global Livestock Collaborative Research Support Program to initiate a 5-year project to develop a Livestock Information Network and Knowledge System (LINKS). The project was operationalized beginning October 2003 with a focus to fill critical gaps in livestock marketing information particularly in the major livestock producing areas in the arid and semiarid lands of Kenya. LINKS was designed to respond to livestock marketing information needs by providing an information communication technology infrastructure for reporting and requesting information on livestock prices and volumes from a network of different markets. The development of the system progressed through a number of steps involving design, testing, piloting and stabilization. In partnership with key collaborators, LINKS was later integrated into a National Livestock Marketing Information System (NLMIS) that facilitates dissemination of information to end users including livestock keepers, traders and policymakers.
The core program includes the following components: 1) information technology, 2) establishing communication infrastructure and technologies, 3) identifying and developing working relationships with key livestock marketing authorities, agencies, and associations, 4) acquiring reliable livestock market information, 5) analysis of data, and 6) information dissemination. Out of this process has emerged a new generic livestock marketing information system that allows reporting of market prices and volumes for different livestock species. The system has the capacity to capture a large number of additional markets online and may be adapted to include other agricultural commodities as desired.
Developing the technical and human capacity to meet market information needs and decision support for livestock producers helps to bridge the gap between markets on the one hand and producers on the other. This means that producers can make better choices on where to sell their animals and gives them leeway to have stronger bargaining power with traders while it also allows traders to identify markets that have the potential to supply desired numbers and quality of animals.