Project Details



Joining Chinese farmers together across huge distances.

By China Mobile

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  • Economic Empowerment
  • Mobile
  • Social Software

In 2012, potato farmers in Chinese inner Mongolia had what can only be described as a bit of a headache: 600 million kilos of unsold potatoes. In days gone by the unwanted potatoes would have rotted away. But thanks to a simple yet innovative service run by China Mobile, the farmers found more than 278 buyers, in far-away regions such as Shandong, Shaanxi and Heilongjiang. Those buyers took the excess potatoes off the hands of the thankful Mongolians in lots of about 100,000 kilos each.

That trade was made possible by 12582, a platform which China Mobile runs as a loss-making, social venture, using SMS messages to connect farmers to one another as well as buyers and sellers. As of 2013, the service was sending out 13 million text messages a day to more than 40 million registered farmers, alerting them to opportunities to sell their products, hire labourers and offer their own services.

Known in China as Nong Xin Tong, and also as the Facebook for Farmers, 12582 helps to keep farmers abreast of developments in farming techniques, for example in greenhouse management and product labelling.

12582 is both an information service, a market place and a social network linking farmers together. It is using the most basic mobile phones to overcome some of the many disadvantages people face in rural China – among them impoverished access to reliable information, know-how and urban markets. By knitting farmers into social networks and opening up markets to them, it’s helping to tip the scales slightly in their favour, and it could yet provide a platform for other mobile services in rural areas of China, from healthcare to education and finance.

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Last updated: 09th of May, 2014

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