KALRO launches apps to offer farmers info on weather & crop diseases to increase their yields, foster food security

A farmer prepares water channels in his maize field in Ngiresi near the Tanzanian town of Arusha on Tuesday, July 17, 2007. Millions of farmers around the world will be affected by a growing movement to change one of the biggest forces shaping the complex global food market: subsidies. Many experts agree farmers need help to grow food year in and year out, but Western farmers may get too much and African farmers too little. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

It is estimated that the livestock farming alone contributes to 7.9 – 10 per cent of Kenya’s GDP with the poultry industry contributing an estimated 1.7 per cent. Poultry agriculture has emerged as a lucrative venture for young farmers, particularly among small-scale farmers, which support over 70 per cent of Kenyans.

However, after the pivot of iCow, and the Farmers in the early 2011 to around 2015 turned to M-Farm andfor agricultural and livestock information on how to improve their yields by use of livestock and farmer best practices respectively. But these services didn’t last long as iCow is now more focused on nutrition-based issues while M-Farm is hugely inactive.

In a move to provide farmers with timely, high-level research and agro-weather data for specific value chains, advising farmers on the best agronomics practices for their geographical areas, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has partnered with Liquid Telecom Kenya to launch an e-service platform and three mobile apps for chicken, dryland crop and pasture seed farmers, delivering real-time updates from their research labs and meteorological agency.

KALRO is now able to offer Kenyan farmers, researchers, students and over 9 Kenyan Universities offering agriculture courses with new, timely and more detailed research information, leading to advanced knowledge in livestock and crop production in the country.

“Through our apps, KALRO aims at empowering young farmers, who can now easily start farming poultry to raise their potential and increase their incomes as captured by the sector’s driving strategy, the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy,” said Dr. Eliud Kireger,  Director General of KALRO.

The KALRO Indigenous Chicken app is now offering farmers information on feeds, both as varieties and availability, diseases and animal breeds, in a bid to increase productivity from the current estimate of 32 million birds.

KALRO will also support the expanded productivity from drought tolerant crops to support household food production through their ‘Range Pasture Seed Production App’, in a country where 80 per cent of land falls in arid and semi-arid areas that are home to over 4 million residents or 10 per cent of Kenya’s population.

“Farmers in these areas can now access information on soil and water management technologies, as well as seeds varieties that are tolerant to drought, pests and diseases, further improving food security,” said Dr. Kireger.

Running between 42 KALRO branches and headquarters and a faster and scalable MPLS – Wide Area Network and VSAT internet connection, offering up to 100Mbps for real-time IP phones, video cameras and other data tools.