Airtel and GSMA project aims to assist Kenyan farmers

farmers  CIAT International Center for Tropical AgricultureThe project will provide small-holder farmers with access to information and know-how on agriculture-related activities. (Image source: CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture/Flickr)Airtel Africa and the GSMA have initiated a project that attempts to provide more than 250,000 Kenyan farmers with agricultural information via their mobile phones

Airtel believes that the ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’ project (Swahili for voice of the farmer), will provide farmers with access to agriculture-related information, advice and research to help them make decisions about their crops and how to increase yields and 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, according to Airtel.

The GSMA mFarmer initiative, supported by USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has awarded Airtel US$400,000 to be used towards the project.

The funds will be used to facilitate the use of mobile phone networks to provide farmers in developing countries with relevant information.

As part of the project a reliable database of content will be developed with the help of partners such as the Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI), an inter-governmental NGO and radio-based information provider Kilimo Media.

Initially, the project will focus on small-holder Kenyan farmers engaged in the production of maize, banana, mango, rice, beans and horticulture crops. Information on more crops will be added on a quarterly basis.

Airtel Kenya managing director, Shivan Bhargava, said, “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 farmers whose livelihoods are dependent on their yield. The information will allow them to make better informed decisions that will result in improved productivity.”

Airtel said that it has plans to develop the model further and eventually replicate it across all its markets on the African continent.

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