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Telecom firm establishes digital platform for Kenyan farmers

27 February 2014, 18:01 Nechesa Chemoi

Nairobi - Airtel has established a Farmer's Information System to provide real-time information to Kenyan farmers through its mobile network in the country.       

The project, dubbed ‘Airtel Kilimo’, aims to provide farmers with access to agriculture-related information, advice and research. This information will help them make better decisions about their crops hence increasing the productivity of their yield as well as their potential income.  

Airtel Kenya managing director Shivan Bhargava noted the company recognizes the importance of agriculture in the development of the country, explaining that mobile phones are the success story of bridging the rural digital divide, bringing tangible economic benefits and acting as agents of social mobilization through improved communication.

“Airtel is keen on using its quality network and service offerings to make life better for its customers and farmers in Kenya,” he said.

He explained that mobile telephony effectively reduces the "distance" between individuals and institutions, making the sharing of information and knowledge easier and more effective.

“This service is aimed at harnessing farmers’ needs by giving them access to the information they need to improve their farming activities. Gaining access to this information will be of great benefit to the farmers whose livelihoods and those of many Kenyans are dependent on their yield,” said Bhargava.       

It will focus on Kenyan farmers engaged in maize, banana, mango, rice and beans, they will also benefit from weather updates and marketing pricing information. 

Airtel will partner with other institutions to ensure that the project reaches out to many farmers in the country through the platform available on Airtel network.     

Airtel Kilimo has 3 channel of access where customers can get all the information they need. The service is available on USSD *760# for free, SMS subscription where a customer is charged KES 3.00 per SMS and on Interactive Voice Response (IVR) for KES 3.00 per minute.

In March last year, Airtel Africa established a Farmers Information System which enable women farmers to access  information on weather updates, policy, and support services among others.

This followed a memorandum of understanding signed between the UN Women (The United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women) and Airtel Africa.  

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