The use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in agriculture particularly in Kenya is widely regarded as an important factor that can disrupt and change the sector to make it more climate smart and to help feeding the world in the next decades. Agriculture is an essential sector to the economy of Kenya and holds a big potential for feeding its population, income and employment as well as export opportunities.
Kenyans are famous ICT platform innovators.The emerging trend in Kenya has shown that well educated and skilful youth are turning to agriculture to earn a living.This has prompted us to cross check the available technologies that support them in this endeavor
iCow is a comprehensive solution for farmers designed not only to support them with livestock and crop production but also to connect farmers to the vital players in their agricultural ecosystem.
These include input providers, agricultural financial service providers, veterinary experts, agricultural extension service providers, NGO’s, Govt and more!
They provide farmers with SMS messages loaded with great information on the best practices on how to improve what they are doing. They also have cool tools that farmers can use to help them reduce their farming risks. The system they use has a menu through which farmers can select whatever they require from wherever they are 24/7!
Farmers using iCow increase milk productivity, incomes, poultry, eggs, crops, soil fertility as well as reduce livestock mortality. In addition they share their iCow messages and teach their farmer groups and communities! But best of all, they increase their overall farming knowledge and find farming less risky!
It is designed for the most basic feature phones and is available in differerent languages depending on the county of deployment. In Kenya and Tanzania it is available in English and Kiswahili, in Ethiopia in Oromiffo, Amharic and Tigringnia.
Check their site for more information: https://icow.co.ke/
M-Farm is a transparency tool for Kenyan farmers where they simply SMS the number 3555 to get information pertaining to the retail price of their products, buy their farm inputs directly from manufacturers at favorable prices, and find buyers for their produce.
M-Farm gives farmers up-to-date market information link farmers to buyers through our marketplace and current agri-trends.
M-Farm Services on SMS:
How it works: M-Farm offers smallholder farmer with three services: price information, collective crop selling, and collective input buying. They are currently collecting wholesale market price information on 42 crops in five markets in Kenya. Pricing information is collected daily through independent data collectors using geocoding to ensure that the prices are being collected from wholesale traders actually located in each market.
Get M-Farm App on Android:
How it works: Power up you samsung android mobile device. Proceed to your samsung store app. Hit categories and go to Utility Category. Search for ‘mfarm’ under that category.
Their application is free So just hit Download and get real time crop prices from M-Farm. They have a selection of 42 crops to start and prices from 5 Major Towns in Kenya. The application delivers the latest prices for over the past 5 days of the week. The prices are collected from Monday to Saturday. Download and start making deals based on current market prices no matter based on the nearest market we are reporting from.
- Publicly available: yes
- Countries where available: Worldwide
- Price range (USD): Free
- Available online: yes
Check their site for more information: https://www.mfarm.co.ke
3. Mkulima Young
Mkulima Young (MY) or “Young Farmer” in English, is a successful agricultural online platform in Kenya and East Africa, with over 130,000 social media followers and around 20,000 registered users. The MY platform provides digital agricultural marketing and advisory services to small-scale farmers and links consumers interested in supporting local farmers. It aims to attract young people back into the business of farming, by improving their earning potential.
Since Mkulima Young started featuring champion farmers, an appreciable change in young people’s attitudes towards agriculture has been noticed. By having Mkulima Young Champions who are educated and young, the attitude of the youth towards agriculture has changed: from viewing it as an activity for the old, to a profession where they can accrue millions of shillings. Notably, it is not only the jobless who are turning to farming, and the initiative is about far more than publicity. Using radio, SMS and social media, young Kenyans are engaged to discuss agricultural topics and listeners to radio programmes can give feedback online, helping to shape the content and making it more relevant.
Check their site for more information: https://www.mkulimayoung.com/
The Regional Agricultural Trade Intelligence Network (RATIN) is a web-based Regional Market Information System developed and hosted by the Eastern Africa Grain Council. RATIN has been operational since 2004 and was developed to help reduce information asymmetry in the markets with an aim of making the grain sub-sector more transparent in terms of supply and demand. Provision of timely and relevant market data leads to reduced market risk for farmers, traders, and consumers, and enhances price stability leading to better food security outcomes in the region. In addition, RATIN provides policy and trade advisory in regards to food balance in the region for main grain staples.
Currently, RATIN collects market information from 43 markets and 18 border points in the Eastern and Southern Africa and we work with partners to analyze trade data from additional 32 trade corridors in the Greater Horn of Africa. The data is collected daily by monitors using a customized application into a database for record, verification, and dissemination. The morning wholesale and retail prices are published on www.ratin.net site by 11:00 am whereas, informal cross border trade volumes are published by 8:30 am the following day.
Other than the website, users of RATIN can access commodity price data through a “pull” Short Message Service via a feature phone. On the website, users can subscribe to receive Grain sector related news on a daily basis and can access in-depth grain markets and trade reports christened the Grain Watch on a monthly and Quarterly basis.
Check their site for more information: http://ratin.net/
5. Shamba Shape Up
Shamba Shape Up is produced by The Mediae Company, an organisation dedicated to addressing the informational needs of East Africans through sustainable media productions that are entertaining, educative and help improve livelihoods.
They provide practical demonstrations on improved farming practices and approaches covering a range of topics. From livestock health and agronomy to climate change adaptation. When you think of farming television, think no further than Shamba Shape Up. As the first of it’s kind in Africa, it is a “make-over” style reality show that meets the informational needs of farmers and entertains them at the same time.
They have an interactive SMS system which encourages viewers to text their names and addresses to a short code to get a leaflet on the topics covered in the show. The best part? It’s free!
Need to talk to a crop or animal expert at the touch of a button? iShamba, provides farmers with instant help to improve their farms and get better yields. iShamba is a call centre of agricultural experts where you can SMS in your questions or call in to speak to an expert for instant help. Once you sign up, you will also receive agri tips on crop and livestock, market prices and weather updates.
Lastly, they also have an online budgeting tool that can estimate how much your agribusiness will cost and how much profit you will make. With Budget Mkononi, farmers can build personalised budgets on a range of commodities at the click of a button.
Check their site for more information: https://shambashapeup.com/
The development of digital solutions that assists farmers and aggregators in improving their yield and income from agriculture is rising. The use of mobile technology and social media is reshaping the landscape in many sectors. For now agriculture is the least digitized sector in the world.
However, the use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning makes it possible to recognize trends and carry out predictive analysis.
Currently, data used to understand and improve agricultural practices in Kenya is static, heterogenous and not timely which makes it difficult for farmers to apply it and improve their agricultural practices.
Feel free to add any additional digital platform you might be aware of in the comments below