Mobile phones preferred platform for farmers

Mobile phones are the preferred platform farmers are using to access market information, and financial services, a new study reveals.

A new study -Realization of Full Potential of the Agriculture Sector: Is Commercial Financing a Care Missing Gap released by Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) states that mobile telephony is having a transformative impact on delivery of extension services, market information and financial service.

The report based on anecdotal evidence and gathered during the present study shows that this is the one area where past public-sector investments through increased expenditure, policy regulatory reforms, could generate the greatest impact.

KBA CEO Habil Olaka said that even though telecommunication among other infrastructure services such as roads and electricity is limited in most parts of the rural areas a substantial numbers of farmers are using the gadget to receive information.

This,he said is one area where past public sector investments through increased expenditure, policy and regulatory reforms could have generated the greatest impact ensuring the farmers make proper decision.

However, a section of private sector players have faulted provision of some organizations that are using mobile phones to provide information to small holders saying some messages lack quality.

Speaking on the sideline of a report released by KBA on realization of full potential of the agriculture sector, Stephen Muchiri, the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation chief executive officer said though the mobile telephone has been seen to transform the extension services it needs to be complemented with other forms of service delivery.

An agriculture extension needs assessment that we have done, radio is still the most preferred form of agriculture extension and we need to ensure that the messaging of the information being conveyed to famers is the same, he said.

Muchiri noted that though the use of mobile phone is exciting, farmers are now getting fatigued from these many platforms simply because some of them register and subscribe to them and are often unable to delink from the messages which have a cost implication.

The problem is that when you look at a lot of these messages, they are not targeted to the recipient of the message, he insisted saying most of the platforms have been developed to deliver messages that do not have an impact on farmers.

Muchiri said that from what they have observed, most of the extension services run by farmers themselves tend to make an impact and that the alerts contain popular messages.

According to the Bankers report, poor agricultural financing and commercial lending to agriculture has remained the big impediment to realization of the sectors full potential in the country at a time when the government is focusing on promoting agricultural output to ensure food security.

Under the big four agenda, the government has allocated Sh 20.25 billion to enhance food and nutrition security to all Kenyans by 2022.

Regionally,agriculture commands the largest share of employment and Gross Domestic Product account for 61 percent of total employment and 25 percent of total GDP in Sub Saharan Africa.

Source: Kenya News Agency