Airtel Africa is working with the GSMA to provide 250,000 small-holder farmers in Kenya agricultural information via their mobile phones.
The project, dubbed ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’, which means ‘voice of the farmer’ in Swahili, aims to provide farmers with access to valuable agriculture-related information, advice and research that will help them make better decisions about their crops, increasing the productivity of their yield, as well as their potential 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.
As part of the partnership, the GSMA’s mFarmer initiative, which is supported by USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has awarded Airtel $400,000 for the project.
“This initiative is a solid testament to what partnerships that harness relevant consumer needs can achieve in overcoming daily challenges,” said Shivan Bhargava, managing director, Airtel Kenya.
“Our 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 the farmers whose livelihoods are dependent on their yield. The information will allow them to make better informed decisions that will result in improved productivity,” he added.
The initiative aims to promote the use of mobile phones to provide farmers in developing countries with agricultural information.
The $400,000 funds will be used to develop a database of content with the help of partners such as the Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI), an inter-governmental not-for-profit organisation and radio-based information provider Kilimo Media, as well as to set up the technology to execute the project.
Initially, ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’ will focus on small-holder Kenyan farmers engaged in maize, banana, mango, rice, beans and horticulture such as tomato and black night shade crops. Information on more crops will be added on a quarterly basis. Airtel plans to further develop the model and eventually replicate it across all its markets on the continent.