Articles, Blog

Mobile Phones: The Farmer’s New Tool (narrated by Melinda Gates)

November 18, 2019

If you were to make a list of the most important tools farmers use, you probably wouldn’t include a mobile phone. But in sub-Saharan Africa, where 7 out of 10 people are farmers, the mobile phone will transform agriculture. How? African farmers tend to get much lower crop yields than farmers on other continents. One reason is that they often don’t have good training about what to plant, when to plant, or how to keep soil productive. Mobile phones can change that. Farmers can learn about improved seeds and fertilizer, get educated about techniques like crop rotation, follow the daily weather report, and track market prices — all via text message. And it doesn’t stop at farming. Half of adults around the world do not have access to a traditional bank account. These institutions can’t afford to serve poor clients who transact in tiny amounts. But with digital banking – accessed through a mobile phone – money transfers will happen instantly and securely, and at a cost near zero for the user. By 2030, 2 billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be saving money and making payments with their phones. And it’s a priority to ensure that women have equal access to phones. Right now, the percentage of men who own phones dwarfs the percentage of women. We must close this gap. Ensuring women reap the benefits of mobile phone ownership will improve both agriculture and digital banking, but also advance a host of other health, social, and economic outcomes as well. In the not so distant future, the farmer who uses her phone to grow and sell the best crops will use that same device to deposit the sale into her bank account. Her money will be secure and ready to spend on her family’s needs. And that means the life of every African will be healthier and more prosperous.


  • Reply Gemma Ohlemacher January 21, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    Good to see a charity bringing people things they NEED instead of throwing gruel and bibles at them… 

  • Reply Mircea Jemna January 21, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    nokia had a similar idea, but it does not exist any more, lets hope Gates will make a step foward 

  • Reply Insane CoolAid January 21, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Good message! Buuut… Wont their culture get mad?

  • Reply Dogoel January 21, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Wouldn't this be Monsanto all over again?
    How will their Mobile contracts work? How does it relate to their 'digital banking' accounts? What will the grant of credit be depended on?
    Why not just have educational sessions for the already farmers on improving their ways rather than telling them what to do and when to do it, in the name of efficiency?
    Is there any project into the education of upcoming generations of farmers?
    Any links to more info about this project?
    Otherwise, people have to realize that Bill Gates owns Monsanto? Monsanto has been patenting seeds, modified or natural(still modified). That way it is able to sue any farmer for using or making any seed they deem copycat of theirs. Not only that, how about the issue with the GMOs and how crooked the FDA is? If you, do not believe me, research all of this by yourself. Even Chuck Norris spoke out against them,
    With that in mind, I only see this as a plan to out-root those farmers(in the mentioned area in the video), and to then implement the same system going on in the US.
    Bill Gates owns Monsanto which does treat 'private' farmers any good, how can anyone expect you to treat those in a foreign country any different.
    Do not mislead people by only presenting the 'efficient' part of the project, details would be nice. 😛

  • Reply Tami Neilson January 22, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    I do not believe that Monsanto has done us any favors by experimenting on us but I can see the benefits when it comes to growing crops in under-developed countries. Knowledge is gained by trial and error. I hope that our anger with Monsanto will help to encourage our governments to force Monsanto to clean up their act and get the pendulum to swing the other way; that all the amazing knowledge they have collected can move us towards a healthier world.

  • Reply Uniform Health January 22, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    Surprised you would release so many great videos all at once. seems common practice to keep a steady release of videos to retain subscribers and to channel interest in each video. Btw love this idea

  • Reply Lom Se January 27, 2015 at 7:54 am

    I love the idea, let's not forget that in Africa, there are dark forces (our so called head of states) who somehow enjoy seeing their own people suffer; these people should be out the way for this to work

  • Reply John King January 27, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.
    Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.

  • Reply Michael Choe January 29, 2015 at 3:22 am

    does a normal farmer in usa use his phone for all this?

  • Reply Trường Ca Hành February 5, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    I don’t understand how mobile banking would be an efficient system. Won’t some farmers just ignore their text messages or read them very rarely? What happens if they lose their mobile phones? Has the fact that they might be unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the concept of a bank account been taken into consideration?

    How trustworthy are local banks? how can we make it so that the farmers will understand how a basic bank account works when people from other more economically developed countries like the Philippines still don’t?

  • Reply Fredy Andrade March 1, 2015 at 1:21 am

    I have one concern about the banking. The world's worst way to help the poor people is involve them with the bank, the bank would consume much more money of the live of those people through the use of taxes and this would bring to their lives some new troubles.

    Thanks for your great work Melinda and Bill, but please… create solutions to the people, but watch that solutions don't create them new trouble.

  • Reply MinionStudios March 7, 2015 at 2:07 am

    This is an amazing idea!

  • Reply Katharine MacMahon March 10, 2015 at 8:37 am

    Shamba Shape Up, East Africa’s hit agricultural TV show, has exciting news! 

    A brand new series of the show will be starting in ‪KENYA‬ this weekend on Citizen TV Kenya, Saturday (English) & Sunday (Swahili) at 1.30pm. For more information or leaflets, SMS your name & address to 30606. 

    The new series will also be airing in ‪‎TANZANIA‬ on ITV Tanzania on Wednesday (time coming). For more information or leaflets, SMS your name & address to 15670 – start your message with 'SHAMBA'. 

    The new series will be airing in ‪UGANDA‬ (time and channel coming). For more information or leaflets, SMS your name & address to 7197 – start your message with 'SHAMBA'. 

    We also will have a RADIO programme starting for the first time in KENYA, which will be airing on Citizen Radio, Monday – Friday at 9.30pm. 

    Shamba Shape Up is also coming to your MOBILE – introducing iShamba. All the best tips from Kenya’s favourite Shamba show, along with weather alerts, market price information and special offers. 

    The advice will be tailored to the crops and livestock you hold, be local to your location in Kenya, and in tune with your region’s crop cycle. 

    Subscribing to iShamba gives access to: 
    UNLIMITED access to our iShamba call centre of agronomy experts. 
    UNLIMITED SMS questions to the call centre. 
    SMS FARMING TIPS on weather, markets, crops Shamba Shape Up partners may offer you discount deals from time to time. 

    Please share this to get more awareness of the great things that are coming up with the show and also LIKE both the Shamba Shape Up page and iShamba.

    If you have any interest about learning more or writing an article for your publication about these updates, please get in touch.

  • Reply Simon Hannes March 13, 2015 at 6:10 am

    Now even the most destitute African farmer can incur banking fees and produce taxable income! 

  • Reply Lemon Tea February 14, 2017 at 12:47 am

    That's an old phone

  • Reply Jonathan Ozik May 16, 2017 at 9:54 am

    It's RACIST to say that africans don't know or have stuff. Check Your WHITE-PRIVILEGE You BIGOTS!!!

  • Reply Kamal Jat December 26, 2017 at 4:21 am

    👍 Good Information for Farmers

  • Reply RJ Sharma March 9, 2018 at 3:38 am

    which software

  • Reply Tadashi Umemura June 22, 2018 at 6:48 am

    You are beautiful.


    on the Internet,

    all things can be sent


    you will be able to get it for free.

    At that time,

    humans will realize that

    their bodies are souls.

    You are beautiful.

    Thank you very much.

  • Reply Anil Arya england police July 11, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    cyrus mistry gave snake bite to bill gates daughter commonsense.IB and mother india at meeting

  • Reply 전정순 January 5, 2019 at 1:47 am


  • Reply 전정순 January 5, 2019 at 1:48 am


  • Reply 전정순 January 25, 2019 at 12:40 pm


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