New Mobile App eases fertiliser access for farmers


NAIROBI, KENYA: Farmers will no longer face the challenge of accessing fertilisers following the launch of a mobile app in Kenya.

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 spot the nearest point where they can purchase the input from.

Speaking in Njoro, Nakuru County during a demonstration of the app to farmers, Job Oyoo, the Mobile App Manager, said the application is now three months old in the country. 

"We built it to meet the demands of our farmers who have for a long time struggled to access fertilisers. With this new app, you can order, pay and even ask for fertiliser delivery to your farm," he said.

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.

Norah Chepkoech, a potato and maize farmer in Njoro says she started using the fertiliser app a month ago. "I ordered ten bags of planting fertiliser to use in planting potatoes in August. Last week, I ordered five top-dressing fertilisers and paid through Mpesa. It helped me save on transport and time spent in going to Nakuru town to purchase these fertilisers," she said.

But not all farmers have managed to use the app. Shem Odhiambo, the Country Director 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 Mr Odhiambo.

The County Director 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".

Barely a month ago, ETG announced that it would be launching a soil-specific fertiliser  blending plant in Bonje, west of Mombasa Island, in a move expected to help tame high prices of the farm input and address perpetual food shortage in Kenya.

With a daily production capacity of 150,000 tonnes, Mr Odhiambo says with the new technology, fertilisers will be produced depending on the nutrients-needs of different soils in different areas.

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