Before mobile devices were popular, the main sources of information about prices for farmers in Africa were market buyers, middlemen, and radio broadcasts. But thanks to technology, farmers can now get a wide variety of information about pricing, which crops are worth growing, how much of a crop a farmer should grow, climate and weather reports among other valuable information directly through their mobile devices.
This has called for the continued advocacy for increase in rural mobile penetration and broadband access. Below are some of the apps and mobile services that aid better farming in Africa.
M-Farm: This is an app that allows farmers to send text messages requesting information about crop prices. For example, to receive cocoyam prices in Nigeria, a registered member texts ‘Price cocoyam Nigeria’. A text response is sent back to the farmer containing the specific information requested. This app also connects farmers with food suppliers and buyers, cutting out the middlemen.
SokoniSMS64: This is one popular service used in Kenya to provide farmers with accurate market prices from around the country. This cell phone service employs SMS text messaging to quickly transfer accurate information about wholesale and retail prices of crops, ensuring farmers can negotiate deals with traders and improve their timing of getting crops to the market.
Tigo Kilimo: This is another SMS based agricultural service that provides information about weather, crop prices, and agronomy techniques to small-scale farmers. So with the provision of weather data, farmers can properly manage their crops. This service also provides appropriate agricultural tips.
Kilimo Salama: A micro-insurance company for Kenyan farmers so they may insure their farm inputs against poor weather conditions like excess rain and drought.
CocoaLink: This app makes use of western Ghana’s rapidly expanding mobile network to deliver important information to cocoa farmers. The World Cocoa Foundation created this program to provide free voice and SMS text messages about farm safety, child labor, health, and improvements in farming practices, crop disease prevention, and crop marketing. Farmers receive messages in English or their local language.
iCow from M-Farm: This mobile app helps farmers to keep track of each cow’s individual gestation so farmers never miss the opportunity to expand their herd. iCow also keeps track of feed types and schedules, local veterinary contact information, and precise market prices of cattle.