Agricultural mobile phone applications have the potential to ignite a revolution in farming that will lower prices for consumers, as well as educate, motivate, and support farmers to increase production. In this post, we will go through some examples of mobile apps for farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and explain how they are changing farming practices.
GeoFarmer is a mobile phone app test-launched in 2017 that had an outstanding response. One of the most prominent agriculture apps Kenya has unveiled in recent years, GeoFarmer acts as a hub for farmers and agriculture experts to exchange vital information. This two-way communication application allows farmers to learn more effective practices, identify weather patterns, and share knowledge with other area farmers in real-time. One of GeoFarmer’s key attributes is that it can be used offline or in rural areas where Internet connectivity may be weak.
Nuru is a mobile phone app used across sub-Saharan Africa to prevent and identify a major pest that is harming crops: The fall armyworm. Launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Pennsylvania State University, the talking app identifies the insect and audibly communicates information about it to farmers in various languages. Nuru also works in areas where Internet connectivity is poor, seeking to help farmers in less connected regions prevent loss and eradicate the spread of this damaging insect.
Self Help Africa
Self Help Africa is an app that acts as a hub for various information related to farming in sub-Saharan Africa. With the overarching goal of eliminating poverty amongst farm families, Self Help Africa provides information related to the weather, farming news, crop diseases, market prices for goods, and much more. It also acts as a forum where farmers can exchange insight that can help them better maintain crops and build connections to consumers.
A farmer’s income relies on selling their crops to consumers. TruTrade not only acts as a vital resource for sharing information regarding pricing and nearby markets, but also as a payment transaction system. This revolutionary agricultural tool has helped farmers choose price points that better serve their income, as well as source out new markets where they can sell to consumers. An interesting side effect of the adaption of TruTrade is that the app has made women feel safer and more confident toting and selling their crops in markets; since TruTrade allows payment to be made via mobile transactions, women have reported that they don’t feel at risk for robbery on their way home from the market.
Four new apps coming soon
The Food and Agriculture Organization has launched a project that aims to bring four revolutionary apps to fruition in the coming years in sub-Saharan Africa. The project aims to provide vital resources to farming households living in poverty, with a particular interest in supporting young entrepreneurs and female-headed households.
1. Cure and Feed Your Livestock – This app provides real-time information for farmers about tending their livestock, including illness diagnosis, feeding routines, disease prevention, and more. It also acts as a platform for livestock farmers to share insight and tips relating to tending their animals.
2. e-Nutrifood – eNutrifood is an educational hub highlighting the benefits of eating various nutritional foods commonly grown by farmers in this region. The app aims to spread critical information about producing and consuming essential foods to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
3. Weather and Crop Calendar – This app gives farmers in-depth insight, warnings, and forecasts regarding the weather patterns that can help or hurt their crops. With information from The Weather and Crop Calendar, farmers can more effectively manage their crops and avoid loss.
4. AgriMarketplace – Similar to TruTrade, AgriMarketplace acts as a broker between farmers and traders, and also provides resources to help farmers sell their goods. One of the challenges facing farmers in sub-Saharan Africa is the lack of access to information about marketplaces and trading hot spots. AgriMarketplace seeks to break down that barrier.
The emergence of multiple mobile apps is set to completely transform agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. While each app focuses on tackling prominent challenges that farmers currently face, they all appear to aim for one main objective: improving farmers’ livelihoods and reducing poverty in agriculture.
However, it is impossible to measure improvement in livelihoods and reduction of poverty in Agriculture without research. GeoPoll has experience conducting research with farmers throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including conducting a study with farmers throughout Kenya on the effect of mobile technology on farming in modern Kenya. The Digital Farmer: A Study of Kenya’s Agricultural Sector is available for free download right now and provides detailed data and insights from a study conducted with over 900 farmers.