Already, the prototype, which was unveiled at the CTA Plug and Play Day, has drawn inquiries from potential investors in three countries – Cote d'Ivoire, Japan and Nigeria.
Its chief designer, Andrianjafy Rasoanindrainy, says the app's exposure at the CTA event has largely contributed to its development.
The product, which is designed to be multilingual, easy to use and affordable, was developed by a group of young people wanting to design an ICT application that could help local farmers. The team are all members of Farming & Technology for Africa (FTA), a Madagascar-based association for sharing ideas and opportunities in the field of agriculture and rural development, especially through ICT4Ag. To produce the app, members have teamed up with another association, Jeune et Agriculture à Madagascar (JAM), for young people interested in farming in Madagascar.
The design group, which includes several software programmers and agronomists, started out with relatively modest ambitions.
"We wanted to develop something very local and make it as user-friendly as possible with plenty of graphics, and design it to take account of poor Internet connections," said Rasoanindrainy, who founded FTA in 2007. "At the beginning, we never thought the application would go very far at international level."
Rural eMarket's simplicity and user-friendly design proved to be one of its biggest attractions when Rasoanindrainy offered demonstrations at the Plug and Play Day event last November.
The concept behind Rural eMarket was based on a survey which revealed that poor access to markets and transport in Madagascar acts as a brake on agricultural production. The app enables producers and buyers to make direct contact and carry out transactions without intermediaries. Fully operational, it has already been successfully tested with both categories of user, though the group lacks the resources to take it further.
"The Plug and Play Day enabled us to show Rural eMarket to a much wider public and that was a great opportunity," said Rasoanindrainy. "We really want to move it forward, and I think it could reach another level, but what we are lacking now is the structure and the finance to push this further."