NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
Kenyan farmers are already benefiting from farmer
mobile applications transmitting information from scientists, an
official has revealed.
Boniface Akuku, the
Director of ICT at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research
Organization (KALRO), said the mobile applications that are
accessible on the Google playstore on smart phones and other
internet-enabled devices are already helping bridge the gap
between research and practice.
“Since the launch of
the three applications, 6,000 farmers have been tracked as they
seek information online through the applications,” Akuku told
Xinhua in a recent interview.
He noted that 88
active subscriptions from individuals and groups that have seen
the importance of the mobile applications have already
registered with KALRO.
Akuku said the three
applications namely, dryland crops, indigenous chicken and range
pastures seed production, were introduced to help farmers
acquire information that could enable them to get benefits from
farming activity in the absence of extension officers.
“We launched the
mobile applications to help transfer science and technologies
that we have developed to help enhance agricultural productivity
to farmers,” he added.
Akuku said the new
technology is being introduced after the failure by the policy
reforms that were introduced in the agriculture sector in last
The reforms, he said
recommended the retrenchment of all agricultural extension
officers who had been a pillar of agricultural productivity from
“Contrary to the
government’s expectation, the performance of the sector
nosedived at the time with annual growth in agricultural Gross
Domestic Product (GDP) declining,” he added.
But having noted the
dangers of operating without extension officers amidst the
farmers and having realized poor harvests that has forced the
government to import food after a couple of droughts that led to
crop failures, the government has now resorted to reaching
farmers through mobile phones.
Akuku revealed that
one application, ASAL knowledge hub (under Dryland crops mobile
application), received recognition during the Planet of the Apps
at the Global Disaster Relief and Development Summit in
September 2017 that was held in Washington, the United Staets
for being visited by many farmers within Kenya.
The application was
named amongst a few Apps that presented some of the latest
mobile applications supporting humanitarian programs and
disaster relief operations across the world.
“This shows that the
uptake is good and that farmers have finally found an easier way
of seeking assistance from agricultural experts,” said Akuku.
He said KALRO is
developing a theory of mindset change to enable youthful farmers
get first-hand information and help them adopt farming as a
business and replace the elderly.
He noted that the
digitalization of agricultural value chain in Kenya is also
assisting farmers in accessing markets, accurate weather
information and purchase quality seeds.
He observed that
Kenya has embarked on transforming its agriculture as a paradigm
shift towards replacing conventional farming systems to
populations since they are fast becoming obsolete as new
knowledge begin to transform societies globally.
Akuku added that the
government is now investing in knowledge and information for
overall agricultural and rural development with the maximum use
“We are ushering in
a new revolution that will lower prices for consumers,
contribute to smart agriculture and motivate farmers to increase
their production,” he added.
He said KALRO has
moved from developing programs to solving problems through the
advent of ICT.
He said farmers from
Northern Kenya where livestock keeping is the lifeline are now
asking for an app on dairy cattle, beef, goats and camels due to
its popular milk.
“We are in the
process of developing on goats, camel, camel milk value chains
that will be launched soon,” Akuku noted.
He said the move
follows request from pastoralists from northern Kenya who are
the leading livestock keepers in the country.
“It has not been
easy for us chicken farmers from the Coastal region when it
comes to acquiring information on indigenous chicken that has
been improved by KALRO scientists,” said Rehema Juma, a poultry
farmer in Kilifi county.
Juma said chicken
farmers from the coast region have raised complaints through the
online application with success.
She noted that they
had been inconvenienced as they were initially forced to travel
to Naivasha, 600 kilometers to get information on the rearing of
According to Simon
Mulwa, an ICT Officer Datacenter Operations, the 500 farmers who
visited their stand at the Nairobi Trade Fair last July show
that the apps are already gaining ground amongst farmers.
Mulwa noted that
there are plans to conduct several field days to help popularize
the apps amongst farmers in rural Kenya.
He said a banana app
has picked up in Kisii region, South Western Kenya where the
crop is grown in plenty.
“The chicken app is
growing popular as it has lots of readers from outside Africa,”
Mulwa revealed that
the apps are also visited by farmers from South Africa, India,
Uganda, Tanzania, Sri Lanka and Russia.