Farmers to benefit from digital farm extension services

Livestock farmers can now access essential extension services from their mobile phones following the launch of a new app.

The app, LastMile initiative is an integrated, solutions-driven program seeking to address crucial animal health challenges by making medical resources available to farmers in hard-to-reach areas. It also aims to bridge current gaps in access, availability and awareness of animal healthcare solutions for smallholder farmers in Africa.

The project is an initiative by Boehringer Ingelheim, funded by Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Speaking after the launch, the project lead Emilie Veillat said: "This mobile app is not only critical for accurate data collection and monitoring, but it also helps teams stay connected, particularly in these challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

She noted that the mobile tool has been unveiled at a time when the world is facing a global health crisis posed by Covid-19 that has forced governments to restrict movement and minimise human interactions to prevent the spread for the virus. Veillat noted that the app has come in handy especially this season when safety measures like social distancing are being practised in a bid to flatten the curve.

Timely intervention

Even with face to face interactions limited, farmers will liaise with field officers remotely and get the necessary assistance via the app.

Additionally, the app will allow for regular and easy interactions with key stakeholders, even as they adhere to health safety measures like social distancing.

Veillat said the programme’s mission is to create long-lasting partnerships with the local farming community to establish and drive sustainable businesses. It was initially launched in Kenya, and other key markets throughout Africa including Cameroon, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.

Thanks to the app, field workers will work more effectively with farmers, retailers and veterinarians. Further, the project implementers will monitor livestock farmers activities accurately, collect data, measure the impact and reach of the initiative, as well as to improve the understanding and knowledge about the smallholder farmer sector for better-informed decision-making in the future.

Some of the main features include a calendar section, farm and retail visit sections, training part covering diseases and product information and also surveys to gather specific information about the target market.

The app is expected to increase the productivity of smallholder farms and farmers and connecting them to markets so that they can thrive.

It is also intended to improve life and livelihood for countless farming families and serve as a model for the rest of Africa.

GALVmed works with partners to make livestock vaccines, medicines and diagnostics accessible and available to millions of smallholder farmers in developing countries who depend on livestock for their livelihood. The international not-for-profit company aims to make a significant contribution towards transformational change in the smallholder livestock health landscape.


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