Kenyan farmers no longer have to wait for the meteorological department to receive weather updates.
They can now use their use Mulika Mwizi, or cheap phones, to get weather forecasts, and patterns going back nine years.
Kwame Adom, a software developer with the Accra based Image-Ad, believes that farmers and other stakeholders in the agribusiness chain can use technology to predict the weather patterns in order to be better prepared in case of extremes.
He has partnered with the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) and using their satellites, is able to predict weather patterns going back nine years which he shares with 300,000 farmers in 19 African countries.
“The satellite is able to pick historical data on rainfall, and other weather conditions like dry spells,” Kwame said in Nairobi recently where he was launching the mFarms App, “with this information, the farmer is able to predict what to expect.”
What this means is that weather forecast is no longer the forte of government agencies like the Meteorological Department, because anyone with access to a mobile phone can get weather information in real-time, thanks to the disruptive nature of technology.
He adds that all they need is the geographic location of a particular farm and then using GPS, the satellites pick the required information.
“The beneficiaries are farmers on our mFarms agribusiness solutions platform, which is a mobile and web based system for managing and communicating with actors within the agricultural value chain.”
Kwame says that in the African countries where Mfarm has been in use in the last seven years including in Ghana, Benin, Senegal, and Malawi among others, he has seen young people increasingly take into farming, a phenomenon which is also happening in Kenya.
“These young people are technologically savvy, but really, it is not only young people who are embracing technology, especially mobile, to help them in their agribusiness but also older generations, men and increasingly women,” he says.
At their fingertips, the farmers are able to access various services including m-Xtension, where you can receive text messages or voice messages regarding farming best practices, like when to plant, what to plant and on pest control, the fertilizers to use. The mFarm also links farmers to markets, besides also tracking produce prices.
“And we are able to customise the communication hub to any local language,” says Kwame, adding that they are rolling out the App in Kenya in support of Alliance for a Green Revolution, AGRA, under the Agribusiness Management Solution for Competitive Agriculture, AMSCA, project. Other countries introduced to the MFarms solutions, which also can be used by governments, and other agricultural stakeholders are Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi and Mozambique.