Kenyan agritech start-up develops farmer registration app

App developer demonstrates how it is operated. [Courtesy, Farmerce]

A Kenyan agritech startup has developed an innovative farmer registration and profiling app aimed at agricultural data revolution across the country.

The app developed by Farmerce aims to leverage low cost data collection technologies, analytics and artificial intelligence to improve outcomes in the agricultural sector.

The Company's chief of operations Mike Kaburi said insights from the data collected would be used to directly support farmers through weekly updates on weather, agronomy and commodity market prices.

During an interview, Kaburi said this would also play a critical role through partnerships to conduct capacity building trainings, map out aggregation zones for specific food baskets and promote farming as a business.

"It is a critical juncture for the country and a big opportunity for us to use our technology to support government and other stakeholders in the sector to win and maximize the economic opportunity agriculture,” Kaburi said.

According to him, the current regime has pledged to prioritise agriculture while directing the ministry of Agriculture and ICT to roll-out a farmer registration campaign.

“We are convinced that this is the right time for our solution as we are keen to empower government, county governments and other stakeholders with accurate analytics and insights through a truly innovative farmer registration app, data bank and intelligent solutions to deliver actionable insights,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by the Chief of product Derrick Gakuu, who said the company has put in place measures to ensure data compliance, privacy and security.

This includes ensuring that partners and farmers understand nature and use of data captured, local hosting environments for any basic data, have a watertight cyber security framework in place, and sharing insights or outcomes only with partners.

“Farmerce app really is the dam, and the 1st element in the pipeline. Counties for example , can use the app to capture farmers basic data like name and gender, geotag the farms, take stock of historical production, current production, number of trees or livestock and conduct needs assessment,” he said.

Gakuu said currently, there is no adequate data for instance, on how many smallholder farmers are there, who they are, what they produce, how much land they own and how much income they make from their agricultural activities.

“This is because these data is simply not available. Which makes it extremely difficult for government to design, implement and evaluate agricultural projects and programs,” he said.

According to him, this has left the private sector struggling with effective resource planning, investment, aggregation and value-chain management of different agricultural projects.

This is despite the fact that over 75 per cent of rural households in Kenya participate, earn and derive their food and nutritional needs solely from the agricultural sector.

Gakuu said a recent survey indicates that a significant percentage of Kenyan farmers are impacted by poorly structured value chains, which directly affect their yields and quality.

“Occupational farmers, majority of whom are rural, wake up every day to till their farms, they are disconnected from the glaring realities of climate change, unstructured value-chains, middlemen, informal markets, financial exclusion and global macro-socio-political-economic trends that would affect them in one way or the other,” Gakuu said.

On the other end, he said county governments, agriculture development partners, private investors, processors, aggregators, cooperatives, agricultural entrepreneurs almost always fail in their efforts to maximize value in the sector due to lack of clear insights and forecasting.

“Financial institutions aggrevate the situation further. Banks lending apathy in the sector is evidenced by low penetration of financial inclusion products among farmers,” he said.

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