Farmers go mobile

August 07, 2013

The trend of using mobile agriculture apps is growing in significance. In March this year there were as many as thirteen new developments in convention app stores. These apps provide farmers with information on, for example, the ideal mixture ratio of pesticides and trade prices worldwide. Further apps include those which show cultivation and harvest dates or allow farmers and agronomists to map field boundaries, enter scouting attributes for pests (weeds, insects, and diseases), take geo-referenced photos and even manage collected data. The benefits here are clear as farmers not only have access to detailed information but they are also able to plan and document activities better.

Mobile technology reaches developing countries

It is particularly important for smallholders in emerging countries to use their resources optimally, however, a lack of information means that the farmers can only marginally profit from their land. Apps for modern smartphones, such as those used by smallholders in industrial countries, can often not be of any help here. Innovative mobile services that work on cheap mobiles are needed and fortunately several useful solutions exist already.

In June 2011, the GSM Association (GSMA), in cooperation with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) founded the mFarmer Initiative. It supports mobile and service providers in the development and introduction of offerings which provide agricultural value added services to farmers in their daily work (Agri VAS). Farmers can, for example, receive information on possible grants and general market prices as well as tips on how to protect their plants or how to deal with sick animals. Those with more detailed questions can call an expert hotline. Smallholders in countries such as Zambia, Ethiopia, Ghana and Uganda often live below the subsistence level and programs  such as mFarmer open up opportunities of increasing profits and income from farming so that standards of living can be improved.

iCow is another mobile solution which has established itself in Nairobi. Farmers, who registered their cows by mobile, receive timely text messages about mating cycles, vaccination dates and the correct type of feed. In order for such precise solutions  to be used optimally in developing and emerging countries, the manufacturers of mobile devices have to adapt to local conditions. Whilst manufacturers are developing highly modern end-devices for the population, other features are needed in Nairobi, for example. Requirements there include longer battery life due to poor access to energy supplies or sufficient storage capacities so that farmers can save the information on their mobiles for longer periods of time.

Veit Mathauer
Veit Mathauer

 

 

Function:
Award Communications

Organisation:
Award Communications

Topics

  • Food & Agriculture
  • Information & Communication
  • Integral Solutions
  • Food & Agriculture
  • Information & Communication