Mobile innovation aids African farmers

Mobile innovation aids African farmers

Encouraging news about useful applications of mobile technology to farming has recently come in from two countries in Africa.

Researchers from the Mazingira Centre at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Kenya have developed a mobile phone app to help farmers better gauge the live weight of their animals.

Called eWeigh, the app is a free farm management resource tool, built around the use of a simple proxy measure – heart girth (HG) – to estimate live weight.

However, the estimation of an animal’s live weight from its HG measurements can be influenced by several factors, including breed, sex, environment and production system. Thus specific algorithms are used for predicting LW, that are context and region-specific, in order to increase the accuracy of LW estimations. All data recorded by farmers is stored on a cloud-based database and can be easily retrieved.

The eWeigh app is available on the Android platform and can be downloaded and installed from the Google Play Store. 

Another innovation, this time in Zambia, is bringing digital banking to thousands of farmers.

Zambia has over two million smallholder farmers and a rural population of about 9.7 million people, with approximately 40 percent of them being financially excluded. One of the country’s leading banks, Zanaco Bank, has partnered with the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and Agrifin Accelerate (AFA)/Mercy Corps to develop and test a strategy for an account – called AgriPay – that offers farmers services to transact, save, send and receive money.

Zanaco will also add features such as agronomic information and financial literacy to help farmers become more productive, be financially included and better participate in the Zambian economy.

The account has been rolling out since May 2019 and, while enhancements are likely, it has already increased usage of digital financial services by underserved segments of the population.

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