How Tech. Can Support Rural Agriculture in Africa

[slideshow] During my visit to Nairobi, I was lucky to come across some interesting organisations, using tech. to support farmers in innovative ways. 

KickStart has utilised the success of M-Pesa to create mobile layaway service known as Tone kwa tone pata which enables small-scale farmers to make incremental payments over a mobile phone in order to purchase irrigation pumps, which in the long term, should enable them to maximise yields and generate an income for their families.  You can read more about the layaway service here. I was able to make a field visit with two members of their staff Regina and Anu and saw firsthand the significant impact their programme had made on the lives of farmers.

The Kenya Gatsby Trust is funded by The Gatsby Trust in the UK, who share the Sainsbury Family of Charitable Trusts offices with Indigo.  They use a sector-based, value chain approach to facilitate innovative market systems development solutions for enterprises to encourage poverty reduction, and wealth creation.  Whilst in Nairobi, the Indigo Trust team was able to visit their offices.  We had fascinating discussions with three members of their team (Ben, Francis and Susan), who described potential ways in which technology could support their services including the possibility of developing mobile phone extension services for farmers and fisherman, utilising mobile phone based insurance systems, reducing corruption at sellers through linking scales to telephones, using technology to enhance accountability across the supply chain and identifying services which can improve their in-house monitoring and evaluation.

Whilst in Nairobi, we also managed to visit Rose Goslinga of Syngenta Foundation who are developing an innovative, insurance scheme for agriculture farmers in Kenya, known as Kilimo Salaama. Farmers can register for the scheme and receive payments by mobile phone.  They receive automated payments when weather stations measure drought or excessive rainfall in their local area.  They also provide an agricultural extension service to farmers and they hope to expand the reach of their insurance to insure against disease and livestock.