- Make quality agricultural information accessible for 20 crops and over five breeds of livestock in order to promote best practices, increase productivity and improve access to markets among targeted farmers
- Digitize weather information for all counties in Kenya.
- Digitize market price information for 42 commodities; thus enabling farmers to check and receive weather and market prices information in real time
- Create a platform where input suppliers, veterinary companies and agribusinesses such as grain buyers / processors interact directly with potential customers (farmers).
- Design content for marginal areas where farmers are more vulnerable to climatic risks, thereby providing them with access to information specifically tailored to their situation.
Access to quality agricultural information remains a challenge to many Kenyan farmers despite the fact that their ability to increase food production and benefit economically is linked to their ability to adopt new farming practices, solve problems and link to markets. While farmers currently access information through a web of social networks, sometimes this information is limited and cannot help them increase their farm productivity.
Kenya’s mobile penetration stands at 82% with an expected rise to 90% before 2030, according to Communication Authority of Kenya. Therefore, mobile phone accessibility in Kenya, especially among the poor, makes it an important tool to pass important information on agriculture, which can enable farmers to improve their incomes. iShamba, a Kenyan based mobile phone subscription- Farmers Club, was developed to respond to the need of access to information for farmers by utilising the rapid expansion of mobile phones. iShamba (translated to iFarm from Swahili) provides quality information on farm inputs, best practices, weather and prices to the subscribed farmers. Its main aim is to improve the yields and income derived from selling produce for participating farmers and create a commercially sustainable business model for the SMS service. It works through a platform that digitally manages agricultural information and disseminates it through an SMS distribution and call centre facility without the need for a Mobile Network Operator. Since its inception, the iShamba SMS service has recorded a 50% increase in usage.
iShamba provides SMS advice tailored to the crops and livestock each farmer holds, local to their location in Kenya, and in tune with their region’s crop cycle. The platform makes it possible to deliver real time information allowing farmers to make informed decisions on farm inputs, crops to plant, pricing and bargaining. Consequently, this increases farm level production and access to markets ensures an income plus improved livelihoods. Farmers using iShamba also benefit from special offers and discount prices offered by key EAC-based agri-product suppliers who are keen to use the platform as a direct channel to reach new customers.
ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE
- iShamba won two awards at the Mobile Innovation Awards i.e. Effective Integration of Mobile in an Omni Channel Strategy award & Regional Award (Africa).
- At least 100,000 farmers subscribed to iShamba service – SMS logs, and payment / subscription records of participating farmers to the iShamba service
- Farmers increases farm gate prices of maize and potatoes by 5% as these crops prices are provided on the iShamba platform (determined from farmer’s output)
- Potato farmers subscribed to ishamba recording a greater yield by 50%, compared to those who had not subscribed
- Weather information by county level has also helped to serve as an early warning system to marginal areas (and those prone to flooding).