Kenyan telecom Safaricom in partnership with Green Dreams Limited has officially launched mobile application platform iCow, an SMS-based programme aimed at promoting smart dairy farming.
iCow is an agricultural information platform designed to help farmers increase their output, thereby boosting profits.
Kenya’s five million dairy farmers can subscribe to the shortcode *285# to access information, with messages charged at KSh3 each.
Speaking during the launch of the platform at Jamhuri Showground, Su Kahumbu, executive director at Green Dreams Limited, said farming must be made interesting with the new technology, which is cost effective and a way of improving availability of information on how to increase products.
“iCow survey data shows farmers who have been on iCow for seven months begin to realise an increase of milk of between two to three litres per animal per day. This is an increase of about 610-930 litres a year which translates into an average increased income of 25-30k per animal per year,” she said, adding that iCow data shows farmers have reduced cow and calf mortality, enabling them to grow their greatest asset base.
The iCow programme is to be launched in phases, with the first phase having three features: Kalenda, Mashauri, and Vetinari.
Kalenda is a service that enables farmers to keep track of their gestation period up to birth through timely SMSs. It also provides nutritional and vaccination tips for their cows.
Mashauri sends farmers three SMS tips every week on dairy farming, while Vetinari will help farmers find their nearest veterinary artificial insemination extension service providers within their respective geographical area.
Safaricom chief executive officer (CEO) Bob Collymore said the application is simple, affordable and does not require a smartphone in order to access.
“iCow is an easy to use, affordable and convenient mobile phone application which will empower Kenya’s dairy farmers with global best practices. iCow is a clear demonstration of how technology is positively impacting key spheres of our economy,” he said.
He added that farming is vital to economic development in Kenya but farmers do not have knowledge and information on diseases, good breeds, and food among others to provide quality outputs.
“I have supported iCow since its inception in 2010 when it had few partners. iCow Safaricom partnership empowers partners as a core value to engage on dairy farming as a practical,” said Karen Freeman, USAID/Kenya Mission Director adding that it was her pleasure on behave of the US government to celebrate innovation of iCow with the two partners.