A cellphone app is helping Kenyan farmers diversify their crops and improve yields, despite the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
DigiFarm helps farmers source supplies such as seeds and fertilizer. It also helps with insurance, loans to diversify crops and market access. It even helps plan for extreme weather such as droughts and floods.
DigiFarm, a free service from telecommunications giant Safaricom, was launched in 2017, but most of its 1.4 million users signed up after the pandemic hit, Elizabeth Mudogo of DigiFarm told The Star of Kenya. The app recently expanded into Nigeria and Tanzania.
Kenya has 4.5 million small-scale farmers, according to government figures. Their output accounts for more than 60%
of the country’s food.
During the pandemic, farmers have had no choice but to improve their methods. DigiFarm is one of many innovations sweeping through Africa’s farming industry and helping to blunt the effects of the pandemic on food security and poverty.
The continent’s young, tech-centric population is embracing agricultural technology using mobile apps, artificial intelligence and drones to help build a more diverse, resilient agricultural industry. Besides DigiFarm, there are companies such as HelloTractor of Nigeria, which uses a mobile app to streamline sharing farm equipment.
In addition, Twiga, a Kenyan mobile e-commerce platform, harvests, buys, packages and delivers produce from member farms directly to vendors by digitizing the supply chain. It claims to cut out middlemen, eliminate food waste and reduce prices. Twiga Foods expanded from Nairobi to five other major towns during the pandemic and recently announced expansion into Uganda.