With the global food crisis raging on, it is time for countries and international organisations to think of creative ways to address the issue. Giving free rations is not a viable economic answer. Consumers reeling from price hikes don't need food aid; they
need assistance on the pricing.
One of the common solutions to address food inflation is issuing food stamps. Some countries like India issue 'ration cards' that entitle holders to purchase food items at low rates from designated shops.
In today's 'Goog-Mobile' world, I think it is time for countries to use the ubiquitous mobile phone as a channel for distributing food stamps. Governments can tie up with mobile operators and aid agencies to send 'food credits' to citizens mobile numbers.
I had pleaded in one of my earlier blogs that it is time for the mobile phone to be used as a citizen ID. The added benefit of your mobile carrying 'food currency' makes it all the more attractive. Already, in countries like Kenya, the mobile credits are used
as a P2P currency unit. So, why not download food stamps to mobile phones of needy citizens. The needy consumers will just need to go to designated shops, pay by mobile phone and collect their food items. Mobile phones and numbers are perhaps the fastest growing
consumer item across the world - particularly in the Third World. Governments should come out the traditional mode of thinking and look for digital solutions. In fact, donors from across the world can actually donate mobile credits by uploading contributions
to mobile numbers at the MSP's website!
The road to digital currency can begin at the most basic necessity - FOOD!