FarmPal, a new mobile app that allows farmers to access free information on farming trends and methods via SMS, could soon assure majority of Kenyan farmers of bumper harvests and reduced cost of production.
FarmPal, a new mobile app that allows farmers to access free information on farming trends and methods via SMS could soon assure majority of Kenyan farmers of bumper harvests and reduced costs of production.
Thomas Kioko, FarmPal developer, said in a country where about 80 percent of the population engages in Agriculture, the new app set for launch in May will allow farmers to access expert and timely information allowing them to increase their productivity.
The Nokia S40 and SMS based App has a section where farmers can get information on where to buy and sell farm produce and equipment. It in addition displays a list of certified dealers in farming materials including certified dealers for seedlings, fertilizers, or manure. The last section displays seasonal planting guide.
“I saw great potential in African agriculture but farmers lacked information and some were undecided on what to and when. So I decided to come up with a platform to bridge the information gap by creating the mobile App,” said Kioko.
FarmPal supplies farmers with information corresponding with particular planting season and specific weather patterns. It also provides information on the prevalent pests and diseases in addition to offering ideal farm practices including early planting, crop rotation, grafting, and water harvesting on request.
Lack of proper information tools has been a cause of bad decisions by African farmers. When the price of rice went up 20 percent in May 2011, according to the Economic Report on Africa 2012, it could have meant profits to farmers but majority of the farmers experienced losses since they could not access reliable and timely information.
“FarmPal intends to partner with the Metrological Department to provide geographical weather patterns to Farmers. All the User has to do is select their Country and Location then with certain algorithms and information the user is told,” said Kioko.
Kioko told HumanIPO some farmers he showed the demos were impressed calling it the “mobile extension officer.”
He is currently working on the public version of the App and says his biggest challenge is accessing the information databases in the various agencies and organizations.
Similar phone-based applications including iCow, a dairy farmer’s production monitoring tool, and M-Farm, an application that provides farmers up to date commodity price updates, have already found application among Kenyan farmers. FarmPal however offers a wider range of services to farmers.