August 3, 2012

'Farm to Fork' by SMS aims to help support farmers to become more profitable and attractive in Africa

1.jpeg In Africa farming has also gone out of fashion – it’s hard work with little pay. Millions of young men and women have moved into overcrowded cities seeking better work and instead end up living in slums. Forbes reports.

quotemarksright.jpgTo help this situation Africa Rural Connect – an online global collaboration network run by the National Peace Corps Association – recently ran a contest to help support those who are making farming more profitable and attractive in Africa.

The $5,000 Grand Prize – announced today – went to Backpack Farm: Africans Feeding Africa for their project "KUZA Doctor: A Farmer’s Mobile Toolkit from Farm to Fork.”

The program will be the first mobile tool in Kenya made to assist smallholder farmers in managing their production from ‘farm to fork.’ It will “support farmers using the most basic mobile phones with critical knowledge to increase their rates of production and subsequent incomes while learning the value of local biodiversity and conservation farming.” The prize will support the launch of the project’s smart phone android application with a field trial to launch in October.

The “toolkit” comes in the form of information, sent to farmer’s phones and includes a whole slew of options, like “Farming 101″ that teaches farmers water management techniques (including 7 kinds of drip irrigation and rainwater harvesting techniques), business tutorials and a ”’whiteboard” where farmers can connect with one another and markets.

After selecting a crop, farmers receive an average of 36 messages a season (45 for more technical crops) that help guide them through 8 stages from planning to harvest. The group will provide information for more than 32 crops, including local indigenous species like sukuma wiki (a kale) and njahi (green gram) and aspires to have more than 1 million smallholder farmers registered for the service by 2017.quotesmarksleft.jpg

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