Market Prices on the Small Screen: Transforming Farmers’ Markets in Sri Lanka

Posted on February 4, 2009  /  7 Comments


At Sri Lanka’s largest agricultural market a large projection screen overlooks 12 acres of stalls brimming with produce.

Traders at the Dambulla market consult the screen to receive up-to-the-minute pricing information on produce being sold in the market.

This information helps them negotiate fair prices at any of the market’s 144 booths, says Harsha de Silva, head economist at Sri Lanka-based LIRNEasia, a non-profit organization and IDRC partner that aims to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve the lives of Asia’s people.

In the case of the Dambulla market traders, de Silva says farmers can negotiate from a stronger position because information is accessible.

Such information is vital to ensuring agricultural markets work efficiently because it helps farmers reduce their transaction costs, according to de Silva.

But most research in developing countries has focused on helping farmers access information at the end of the production cycle — like the Dambulla market price screen, says de Silva. “We always focus on the selling stage… prices are important, but what about the information that comes before the point of selling?”

He says farmers can use information available at the market to negotiate a better price for eggplant, but if there was more information available before planting crops, they might decide that onions would be a more profitable choice. This type of price projection information — common in developed countries via the Internet — is not readily available to rural farmers in developing countries, says de Silva.

Read the full story by Angela Pereira at here.


  1. Where can I find Dambulla Price Index

  2. Sriganesh Lokanathan

    Dambulla prices are available through variety of means.

    Easiest is to call 977 from your dialog phone to subscribe for price alerts on your phone. If you have a USSD enabled phone with dialog, you can type #977# and press send and follow the menu prompts.

    On the web you can go to (you would need a mydialog account and if you don’t have one then you can set it up on

  3. I don’t need it in SMS. Neither I want to create accounts in Dialog site. Earlier Lirneasia site hosted prices in a simple manner. Can we have it Back Lirneasia?

  4. Sriganesh Lokanathan

    LIRNEasia will no longer be hosting the prices. GGS is a separate not-for-profit which is working in partnership with Dialog under a sustainable business model.

  5. Tried Dialog. Looks more complicated.

  6. Can you redirect this page to

  7. Thanks for pointing that out. We will rectify that.