, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 5 – Approximately 250,000 small-holder farmers in Kenya can now get reliable and relevant agricultural information via their mobile phones following a partnership project between Airtel Africa and GSMA Development Fund.
The innovative project, dubbed ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’ (Voice of the Farmer), aims to provide farmers with access to pertinent agriculture-related information, advice and research that will help them make better decisions about their crops, increasing the productivity of their yield, as well as their potential income.
The initiative is also aimed at creating a farmer community within which peers can share experiences and exchange information about social gatherings, events, and job opportunities.
“At Airtel, we recognize innovative telecommunications solutions have the power to transform communities. This initiative is a solid testament to what partnerships that harness relevant consumer needs can achieve in overcoming daily challenges. We are excited and thankful to the partners involved in birthing this initiative,” explained Shivan Bhargava, Managing Director, Airtel Kenya.
“Gaining access to this information will be immensely beneficial to the farmers whose livelihoods are dependent on their yield,” he added.
As part of the partnership, the GSMA farmer initiative – supported by USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – has awarded Airtel $400,000 (Sh33.7million) to be used towards the project.
The funds will be utilised to develop a database of content with the help of partners such as the Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI), an inter-governmental not-for-profit organization and radio-based information provider Kilimo Media.
The funds will also be used to set up the technological capabilities to execute the project with the help of world-class technology service providers.
Initially, ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’ will focus on small-holder Kenyan farmers engaged in maize, banana, mango, rice, beans and horticulture (tomato and black night shade) crops.
Airtel plans to further develop the model and eventually replicate it across all its markets on the continent.