Airtel Africa and the GSMA have initiated a project that will attempt to provide more than 250,000 Kenyan farmers with agricultural information via their mobile phones
Airtel said the ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’ project (Swahili for voice of the farmer) would provide farmers with access to agriculture-related information, advice and research to help them make decisions about their crops, increasing yield, as well as income.
It will also help create a farmer community within which peers can share experiences and exchange information about social gatherings, events, and job opportunities, Airtel added.
The GSMA mFarmer initiative, supported by USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has awarded Airtel US$400,000 to be used towards the ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’ project.
The amount will be used to facilitate the scaling of the use of mobile phone networks to provide farmers in developing countries with relevant information.
Under the project, a reliable database of content will be developed with the help of partners such as the Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI), an inter-governmental NGO and radio-based information provider Kilimo Media.
Initially, the project will focus on small-holder Kenyan farmers engaged in production of maize, banana, mango, rice, beans and horticulture crops. Information on more crops will be added on a quarterly basis.
Airtel Kenya managing director Shivan Bhargava said, “Our ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’ project will provide small-holder farmers with access to quality content, information and know-how on agriculture-related activities.
“Gaining access to this information will be immensely beneficial to farmers whose livelihoods are dependent on their yield. The information will allow them to make better informed decisions that will result in improved productivity.”
Airtel noted that it also has plans to further develop the model and eventually replicate it across all its markets across Africa.