Food production in Kenya is likely to increase in the coming years following the launch of a new mobile application that allows farmers to place orders of the input even from the remotest places in the country.
Known as the ETG Mobile App, the new innovation was developed in 2017, with the goal of boosting access of the commodity to farmers.
“If farmers in Kenya can access this critical ingredient, then its application to their farms during planting and top-dressing would increase, ultimately make the country produce more food,” said Job Oyoo, the manager of the app at the Export Trading Group, an agricultural commodities multinational.
Through the fertiliser mobile app, farmers can tell which brands of fertilisers are available in the market and at what price. Importantly, using their mobile phones, farmers can also locate the nearest point where they can purchase the input from.
Speaking to the press in Kitale, Trans-Nzoia County, during a demonstration of the app to farmers, Mr Oyoo said the application was built “to meet the demands of our farmers who have for a long time struggled to access fertilisers.” With this new app, he said, one can order, pay and even ask for fertiliser delivery to the farm.
According to Mr Oyoo, many farmers in the past failed to use the critical input in their fields due to inaccessibility. Ultimately, he says, this impacted negatively on production, posing food insecurity in Kenya. The fertiliser app is available in both the Play Store and App Store in English and Kiswahili.
So far, Trans-Nzoia, Bungoma, Uasin Gishu, Kiambu, Nyeri, Murang'a, Nakuru, Kericho, Bomet, Kakamega and Migori counties lead in the uptake of the new app. Mr Oyoo says regions such as Nyanza, Coast and Eastern have also not been left behind.
Tim Wafula, a potato and maize farmer in Cherangany says he started using the fertiliser app a month ago. "I ordered 100 bags of NPK fertilisers to use in the planting potatoes. Upon delivery at my farm, I paid through Mpesa. This fertiliser has helped me save on transport and time spent in going to Kitale or Eldoret to purchase these fertilisers," he said.
But not all farmers have managed to use the app. Shem Odhiambo, the Regional Head of Export Trading Group (ETG), the multinational behind the app, says most small-scale farmers in Kenya do not have smart phones, thus slugging the uptake of the fertiliser app.
"For now, we are addressing this issue through our distributors who are spread across the country. What we do is that we advise farmers who have no smart phones to do their fertiliser orders through the distributors who are near them. Hopefully in a year or so, we would have come up with a long-term solution to this," said Odhiambo.
He said the app would also be launched in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo "soon", before expanding it to other countries in Africa "in a bid to make Africa a food-secure continent".