|Mobile technology improving farming production in Kenya|
|Thursday, 06 June 2013 10:00|
Researchers are constantly trying to find new and innovative ways of applying technology to improve people`s lives. In Africa and the rest of the developing world, mobile technology has revolutionised the lives of millions, and has had an impact on most sectors, from education to health, banking and many more. Its reach even extends to agriculture, where its potential to optimise farming operations is enormous. There are many examples of how mobile technology
has improved lives in the developing world, banking and money transfer services being among those that have had a profound impact on people who work in cities and have to send remittances to their families in rural areas, often from foreign countries. Text messaging was also used extensively to monitor the recent elections in Kenya and Ghana.
In agriculture, services exist to alert farmers to the best times to plant or harvest crops, and what market prices to expect. A recent blog in The Washington Post highlights a digital tool for farmers called iCow, a good example of the uptake of innovation and how new technology has been put to use in ordinary people`s lives. iCow is a text messaging service based on a Kenyan cellphone-based money transfer service, M-PESA, a service used by millions of people. As the biggest of its kind in the world, M-PESA has changed the economic and social landscape in Kenya.
So how does the iCow service work in the field? Subscribers register their cows with iCow via a text message. The service feeds back bespoke information on each cow. Using data stored on its database, iCow provides its subscribers with information on their cattle, letting them know when they are due to come in heat, what to feed them for optimum milk production, of outbreaks of disease and what they are worth on the market.
iCow is a successful example of traditional farming benefitting from technological advances. Looking at the bigger picture, with food sources under pressure in many parts of the world, and likely to come under more and more pressure as droughts become more frequent and rainfall patterns more erratic as a result of climate change, it is becoming increasingly important to adapt farming practices accordingly so as to optimise production. What iCow reinforces, is that mobile technology is a viable Research Uptake option in bridging geographic divides in a sustainable, interactive and cost-effective way and opens up possibilities for getting practical, useable knowledge to people who could benefit from such information.
Mobile reach in Africa is remarkable, which makes it an important medium to factor in when considering Researh Uptake communication possibilities. Figures quoted in The Washington Post's blog indicate that Sub-Saharan Africa is the fastest-growing mobile market in the world increasing at an average of 44 percent annually since 2000. And with smartphones becoming ever cheaper, the use of apps is also surging and is likely to continue to do so. Across the entire continent, mobile connections have increased to 475 million, with Zimbabwe and Nigeria being among those countries with the highest levels of mobile internet usage globally.
An inspirational showcase of Research Uptake for the developing world via mobile, the iCow service is so successful in helping farmers improve production that it has been asked to launch not only in countries such as Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, but also Malaysia, Russia and China.
© Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA)
Content created by DRUSSA and featured on these sites is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) licence and may therefore be reproduced free of charge without requiring specific permission.
DRUSSA as a source should be acknowledged as follows:
“First published at www.drussa.net/drussa.mobi under the CC BY NC SA 3.0 licence.“
If you are the owner of any content on this site that may be incorrectly attributed, or published unintentionally without the requisite prior permissions having been obtained, please contact email@example.com so that we can correct the attribution or remove the item from our database.
Powered by Joomla. The basic code for the DRUSSA software was developed as open source. Copyright to the code written specifically to customise the software belongs to the developers, Perlcom CC.