Airtel, GSMA’s “Sauti ya Mkulima” project to empower 250,000 small-scale farmers in Kenya


Kenyan farmer using a mobile phone: The Sauti ya Mkulima inititiative aims to facilitate the rapid adoption of the use of mobile phone networks to provide farmers in developing countries with agricultural information.

Airtel Africa has announced that it is working with the GSMA to initiate a project to provide approximately 250,000 small-holder farmers in Kenya with reliable and relevant agricultural information via their mobile phones.

The project, dubbed ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’ (Swahili for voice of the farmer), aims to provide farmers with access to pertinent 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.

“This initiative is a solid testament to what partnerships that harness relevant consumer needs can achieve in overcoming daily challenges. 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 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,” said Shivan Bhargava, Airtel Kenya MD.

As part of the partnership, the GSMA mFarmer initiative – supported by USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – has awarded Airtel a grant of  US $ 400,000 to be used towards the ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’ project.   The initiative aims to facilitate the rapid adoption of the use of mobile phone networks to provide farmers in developing countries with agricultural information.

The funds will be used to develop a reliable database of content with the help of partners such as the Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI), an inter-governmental not-for-profit organization and radio-based information provider Kilimo Media, as well as to set up the technological capabilities to execute the project with the help of world-class technology service providers.

Initially, ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’ will focus on small-holder Kenyan farmers engaged in maize, banana, mango, rice, beans and horticulture (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.

Information provided by the project to farmers will be developed by CABI, whose aim is to improve people’s lives by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment.

The GSMA Development Fund brings together our mobile operator members, the wider mobile industry and the development community to drive commercial mobile services for underserved people in emerging markets.  Since the creation of the Fund, it has partnered with 35 mobile operators, rolling out 53 services, impacting tens of millions of people across 30 countries.

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