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Young Kenyans marry technology and agriculture

Young Kenyans marry technology and agriculture

Jun 18, 2015

Agricultural experts in Kenya are looking to technology to increase food production. Earlier in June 2015, the country launched an online based app that offers farmers information on climate, and seeds to plant, as to increase food production and security. Kenyan farmers largely depend on rain fed agriculture and information is key to meeting the country’s food demands.

In central Kenya, Harun Munuve is a capsicum farmer, growing them in one of his two green houses. Munuve began commercial farming two years ago after studying for his diploma in organic farming. “The best thing about the internet for a farmer is that we get to share information and we get to know the current prices, the best inputs and so much more,” he says.

Part of his daily work involves taking pictures of his crops and downloading them to his Facebook page, the Tweeting his successes. He also scours the internet for the best market for his crop.

Another young Kenyan, 25-year-old Ronald Misigo, has identified a gap in the market. He’s developed an online tool that connects farmers to climate smart seeds. The free app, called MbeguChoice – Swahili for “seed choice” – is the first of its kind in Africa.

“When I went to college and studied it I thought that there is a gap in agriculture as it has not been explored in agriculture compared to commerce and I thought I can improve that niche,” says Misigo.

He says the platform has information on more than 200 seed varieties, with information on the best place and time to plant individual seed varieties.

“The farmers will have all the information they need and we expect that it will contribute to increased food production and food security in this country,” says Dr. Phillip Leley, Technical Advisor.

Harun Munuve is among the first farmers to try out MbeguChoice. “MbeguChoice is a game changer, life saver for us. Because we used to get information from agro dealers or from neighbours or just people you don’t know if the information is correct. MbeguChoice has made it a one-stop shop. You have choices if you want a variety like duma which I have grown here and if it’s out of stock you are given another which does the same as duma in your area,” says Munuve.

Agriculture is among Kenya’s top employer and income earner sectors. Statistics indicate more than 26 million people in Kenya use the internet. That’s more than half the population.

“The first step is making a tool, the second  step is making sure that farmers know there is a tool , because you can make a great tool and farmers don’t know there is tool, so it will be  a waste of time.” Ronald Misigo adds. Once that’s done in Kenya, there are plans to introduce the app to the rest of the continent and many believe that the convergence between IT and agriculture may well be Kenya’s answer to unemployment.

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