Kenyans love their mobile phones. We also know that farmers love Shamba Shape Up and often want more information after the programme has aired….so introducing iShamba, a mobile agriculture product designed to support farmers across Kenya.
By SMS-ing ‘JOIN’ to 21606 (Kenya only) a farmer will be subscribed to the service (they get a month free to see if they like it!). An active membership means they can call the call centre on 0711082606 or SMS any farming question to 21606 and one of our agricultural or veterinarian experts will respond. In addition we send them weather forecasts, market prices and tips on how to get the most from their farm, local to their region and in tune with their crop calendar.
We’ve been live for about 2 weeks now, and it has been really interesting to see how farmers use the service. For example, SMS is much more popular than phone call! And we’ve noticed that once a farmer receives a response from us they start to send more SMS questions in a full stream – every question they’ve ever wanted to know about dairy cattle, for example! See below for more from our iShamba Vet, Dr Olewe:
This week a farmer in Turbo sought to know how many times he is supposed to spray his cow to control ticks, the best acaricide to use, after how long should he be deworming his cow. After giving birth how long should he wait to inseminate or service his cow for next in calf. How many years should he keep dairy cow…. I got a chance to speak to him to talk through his queries. I advised to spray weekly, noting that this varies with the production system in use and we discussed good management practices so the farmer will be able to serve the heifer between 15-18 months.
Now that the rains are here we’re expecting more calls around mastitis and pneumonia in particular. I’m looking forward to helping farmers on a larger scale than I was able to in the field.