Around the World in Six Ideas

February 5, 2013 by Eleni Gabre-Madhin

The key concept: a commodities exchange that allows farmers—even those in a “frontier economy”—to track prices, warehouse their products safely, and get guaranteed payment. “How do you trust people in a market that’s like the Wild West?” says Eleni. Farmers were unsure they’d ever get paid. Buyers had to worry they’d get bags filled with sand and rocks. And who knew what a fair price might be? Now scores of tickers have been installed across the country to give farmers current prices on the exchange in real time, and dial-in quotations are accessible over the country’s ubiquitous cellphones. The price line gets more than a million calls a month. Commodities are weighed and graded in exchange warehouses, so buyers no longer need to be so wary. Farmers get their payment within a day of sale. And surpluses can be stored today to feed the hungry tomorrow.

By: Christopher Dickey

Category: News & views

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