Mobile Phones, Farmers, and the Unsettling of Geertz’s Moroccan Suq/Bazaar Economy

April 21, 2023

Portrait of Dr. Hsain Ilahiane.

Our distinguished speaker, Dr. Hsain Ilahiane, spoke to our students and staff about how phones have changed the economic landscape for Moroccan farmers. He is an alumnus of the University of Arizona, receiving his PhD in Anthropology in 1998. 

In his presentation on Mobile Phones, Farmers, and the Unsettling of Geertz’s Moroccan Suq/Bazaar Economy, Dr. Ilahiane talks about how the recent usage of mobile phones has affected Morocco’s economy. He starts by giving some background data on how mobile phones have affected the economy of other places around the world such as Niger’s grain industry, India’s fishing industry, and Uganda’s banana farming industry. In all cases that he mentioned, the use of mobile phones decreased the product’s price, increased the traders’ profits, or, in most cases, both. He then goes on to talk about some statistics on farmers who started using mobile phones in their businesses in Morocco. According to his research, when farmers started using mobile phones, they had a 93.45% increase in labor recruitment and 30% of users made the shift from dealing with small intermediaries to wholesalers in major urban centers. He also mentions that the mobile phone increased the knowledge that both the traders and the consumers had access to. As a result, more farmers were willing to take risks in their business to increase their profits and a stronger spirit of entrepreneurship grew in the area. All in all, based on Dr. Ilahiane’s extensive research, it seems that the use of mobile phones has affected Morocco’s economy in a very positive way for both the seller and the consumer by leveling the playing field when it comes to knowledge and information about the industries they are dealing in.