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By Mary Mwendwa

ONEm  Communications CEO Christopher Richardson talks about how the mobile phone new technology is set to change the way farmers do their business.



What kind of innovation are you involved in as a company

 ONEm has created a technology that transforms ordinary voice and SMS into a powerful interactive content and service delivery tool.

With this tool ONEm has created a global membership based community network that Mobile Operators offer to their subscribers.

The majority of these services are for free to the billions of users who do not have any access to any information or services.

The ONEm platform allows for both user generated services and service provider type content services to reach people over ordinary mobile.

 Which areas  are currently targeting

Although ONEm is a global service, like the internet, the obvious benefactors are the 3 billion people who do not have internet access, but do own a mobile.

Together with Mobile Operators in these networks, the ONEm service is made available.

How will this technology help small holder farmers

Small farmers have both a need to access information and share their knowledge in an interactive manner.  Farmers need information on what crops to plant that will have demand, what crops are best suited for the upcoming weather conditions and market cycles.  They will need information on pests and how to deal with them.

What is most important is that these services need to be in their language and for those cant read, to be able to receive this over an audio channel (GSM voice).  ONEm can do this!

Small farmers are at a disadvantage in selling their goods.  Because their crops are marginal in size, they need to be able to reach as close as possible to the direct customer.  This usually meant going to a market or selling to a wholesaler at a price that provides little profile.  With ONEm #market they can advertise for free their products and learn about prices.  Buyers who ever they are can contact them directly by messaging or by voice.  Each party is protected from disclosing their actual numbers since ONEm issues a special mID for this business.  This service is simple and menu driven.

Is there any cost in using the platform

ONEm has many free services and will provide these services as part of the Mobile Operators normal connection charges.  ONEm will make revenues on higher level services that those who can afford will pay, however, the cost of services caters to each market’s ability to pay.

How does the technology work? 

The user will have a single access code which will be known to all as the ONEm access code.  This will be the Mobile Operator who sends an SMS.  It may read.

Send #reg to 5521 to get free ONEm services.

The user will be send simple instructions on what to do.  The ONEm platform conducts a simple dialog with the user give choice in the form of a, b, c.  The user simple selects their responses and answers the questions the platform will ask.  There is an SMS help and tutorial that is always available.

In fact the services are so simple to use.  Just follow the Wizards as they guide you through any process through a typical SMS which will give clear direction.

How it is linked to sustainable development goals

ONEm is an ecosystem, meaning that it will always evolve and include many parties who will contribute and benefit.  The mobile owner, the mobile operator, content providers and users who can contribute and benefit.

ONEm utilizes existing assets of the ordinary mobile and the mobile operator’s existing network.  In fact there is no investment required and nothing to install or change on either the mobile nor the network.

ONEm simply repurposes existing mobile and network technologies through our own technology which is located in global data centers around the world.

We act as a bridge between mobile operators, internet, providers, governments and mobile users.  Our platform is a smart hub able to transform traditional networks to do a job that they have never been able to do.

In relation to markets, financing and innovation in agriculture how will this kind of innovation help farmers achieve maximum with challenges like climate change.

It is all about smart data.  There is plenty of global data available to help farmers but local content is sorely lacking.  If a single farmer is having luck or suffering from a disaster regarding a fight against a pest, then this information can be harvested.  In fact the farmer can earn credits by contributing useful information which other farmers can validate by voting or ranking.

For example provides many APIs which are designed to provide information for the global farming community, however, to benefit a person needs an internet connection or mobile data.

ONEm can easily convert any of these APIs into a fully interactive service.  In fact the farmer would be able use a number of global services from one, for example NOAA data for predictive weather patterns.  These can be reformulated and translated in any language on the ONEm platform.

Example Service


** My Farm- menu **
a Crops
b Market
c Weather
d Settings
e Help
<select option>
** My Farm-crops **
a My Crops
b Search
c Help
<select option>
** My Farm–market **
a Market
b History
c Help
<select option>
** My Farm-help**
a About
b Usage
c Message
<select option>
** My Farm- search **
a Browse
b Key Word
<select option>
** My Farm-my**
a Corn
b Tomatoes
c Celery
<select option>
** Market Place – menu **
a Buy
b Sell
c Settings
d Help/Tutorial
<select option>
** My Farm-about**
My farm is a free service for farmers to get information and track their crops.
<more 1/10>
** My Farm-corn**
a Info
b Calendar
c Share
<select option>
** My Farm-info**
* Corn *
Field  | Area m2 | Yield
a A        |   500       |   –
b C        |   300       |   –
<select option>
** My Farm-info**
* Corn – Field A*
a Wind Damage…
b Sap Beetle…
<select option>
** My Farm-info**
* Calendar *
Crop  | Field | Harvest
a Corn    |   A       | 120d
b Corn    |   B       | 110d
<more 1/5>

The services can drill down to provide access to both user created and outside content.  The outside content may be other users or global content providers.

We can tailor the service to meet the needs of each market.  Any service which has an API can be incorporated into the ONEm ecosystem.

Since ONEm is a multi-service platform already connected to mobile operators there is a significant savings in terms of resource deployment for all stakeholders.

Users don’t need any special device, mobile operators don’t need to change or do anything and service providers can provide their APIs and work with ONEm to develop their services.  ONEm can host these services or ONE can access them through APIs.

ONEm in this case is an enabler rather than a service owner.

With ONEm’s ability to establish calls through an SMS trigger many services can provide emergency services where farmers can explain their problem and get advice.  This may even be from another farmer.

ONEm is a major tool that allows the immediate deployment of useful and valuable services without any additional requirements.  This has to be a major success story when we consider so many other initiatives that require significant investments.

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