Small-scale farmers form the part of Kenya’s Agricultural sector that employs over 75% of the country’s workforce. These farmers own less than five acres of land. The biggest challenge they face is lack of farming technology that can help them produce more and make a better a living.
It is on these gaps that agricultural technologists are giving suggestions on various remedies, to avert low crop yields. Joseph Waruingi, Managing Director of Advantech Consulting Company based in Nairobi is of the idea of empowering small-scale farmers with technology will help in alleviating challenges facing farmers. “African governments have used many policy instruments to improve farm productivity but most farmers are still only marginally improving yields,” Waruingi said. A situation Waruingi attributes to inferior farming equipment, that has not evolved hence stifling productivity. “It’s time for Kenya and the rest of Africa to leverage on new technologies to help in improving farming and also improve yields,” he added.
Advantech firm has launched a new farming concept dubbed ‘Farming as Business’ where they use technology to empower small-scale farmers across the East Africa region. While explaining the initiative, Waruingi said: “Data plays a key role in farming and that’s why through our technology App we are able to collect data from all the small-scale farmers in Tanzania where we have piloted the project in Iringa region.”
He says that they have registered over 100,000 small-scale farmers through which with they are able to make an accurate decision on what should be done in order to improve the yields of every farmer as per the need. The firm asserts that the technology has been to attract donor funding to execute the project in Kenya as well. It works by collecting aerial images from satellites, which are then utilized in advising farmers on crop production.
The technology works in both USSD Code and smartphones that enables farmers to have access to information like weather forecasts, market information, and financial tips to farmers, who are traditionally out of reach, due to barriers in connectivity, literacy, or language. He points out various advantages farmers can reap while using the technological platform. “With our technology farmers are equipped with the market price, pesticides, weather pattern, bookkeeping, financial, soil types and fertilizer skills which will help the farmers make the right choice,” he states.