By Nicholas Waitathu
NAIROBI, KENYA: Over 50,000 farmers will in the next six months be linked to a new mobile and web farming information application tool to enable them access material to enhance agricultural productivity.
Currently, the farming information application tool linked to 500 extension officers across the country is expected to enhance availability of data and use the same to enhance agricultural productivity to contain prevailing food insecurity.
Last week Avallain Limited a social enterprise with offices in Switzerland and Kenya launched the new technology platform -ikilimo-smart farming to bridge the existing gap between farmers and huge volumes of published and online literature that are less encouraging to read.
The inventor of the new system Avallain Limited a social enterprise with offices in Switzerland and Kenya says that the new technology platform is created for millions of small scale and aspiring farmers to enable them know about farm life right from their location.
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For example, farmers will benefit with information of animal production, plant production, farm equipment, food processing high value crops and marketing.
Shelmith Mumbi the company content manager explained that the development of the new information technology system is informed by huge inflation gap in the agriculture sector in the country and new global dynamics such as high population and advancement of information technology.
“We expect youth because of their techno know-how will get interested and venture into agriculture sector which has been a preserve of the old for long,” said Mumbi.
Currently, the farming information application tool is linked to 500 extension workers and is expected to engage more than 50,000 farmers in the next 6 months.
“The new mobile application bridges the existing gap between growers and the volumes of published or online literature that are less encouraging to read. The increased usage of the internet through mobile phones has prompted many farmers to seek information and services from various website,” said Mumbi.
The mobile and web farming information application tool, Mumbi explained can be accessed on any internet enabled device, implying even farmers in the interior locations of the country stand to gain from the new system.
Mumbi confirmed that her company will sponsor 5000 Short Message Service (SMS) tips to be sent for free to the first subscribers of the ikilimo.
She added, the subscribers will sign up for SMs tips on any topic of their choice close within the application.
The new mobile application was developed with assistance by agronomists from the ministry of agriculture, academicians, and local farmers.
“ikilimo will be implemented in two phases with the second phase starting in April next year. It aims at encouraging the youth and aspiring farmers venture into the sector by providing them with basic and very important information in farming,” Mumbi added.
Senior assistant director of agriculture Richard Githaiga stated the launch of the new technology platform comes at a time when the government is focused on modernising the sector with the view to enhancing food security.
Besides, Githaiga said the new information tool will give farmers an opportunity to share ideas, expertise and knowledge on diverse information about farm life for both plant and livestock production.
“This truly represents partnerships that if well nurtured will lead to improved extension service delivery through cheap and effective transmission of agricultural information and technology across the value chain,” said Githaiga. The application of ICT solutions Githaiga observed in the delivery of extension services has the potential to increase productivity of Kenyan farmers’ majority of who are small scale farmers.
“Embracing use of ICT will complement traditional extension approaches while taking advantages of recent advancement of telecommunications and information technology where the percentage of households owing a completer or a mobile phone stands at 3.6 percent and 75.6 percent respectively while internet, connectivity exceeds 8 million,” he added.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has of late emphasized the need to modernise the agriculture sector with the view to enhancing productivity to tame food insecurity.