iShamba Getting market and weather information by SMS

Mediae Company, that focuses on Media for Education and Development in Africa, has successfully broadcasted a tailor made farming show to the East African Countries. The broadcast program Shamba Shape Up is an interactive forum for farmers where a farmer is featured and is able to get extension services needed to help him/her achieve the yields that they desire from their farms. The access to information and education in agriculture is nowaday facilitated by the Kenya’s mobile penetration that stands at 82% with an expected rise to 90% before 2030, as experts have predicted. The current access to mobile technology in the country fostered the launch of several initiative that make use of ICTs to help farmers in different ways, like iShamba.

The solution

iShamba is a text messaging service developed by Mediae Company, that leverages SMS to reach the farmers with information on weather alerts, market price information and special offers in the market. The service is also supported by a call center, where agronomy experts can answer to questions from the users. Every month the farmer is able to receive market prices for crops closest to their markets and a weekly weather forecast including rainfall expectation for the area. The farmer who has subscribed is also able to get agronomy tip text messages aligned to the season in his region. This enables the farmer to get to know exactly when the expected harvest for their crops and which pest and disease to look out for. The farmers are also able to get discounted rates on products given by the iShamba partners. 

By understanding and profiling the exact needs of farmers across the country, iShamba is delivering a tailored service to each customer based on their preferences, interests and location. This targeted service works through a platform that digitally manages the information, and through an SMS distribution and call centre facility that allows the dissemination of information without the need for a Mobile Network Operator (MNO). The project aimed to assist over 20,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya who would subscribe to the iShamba service. The iShamba is able to get its data on weather forecasts from www.aWhere.com, a platform which uses a billion data points to predict weather forecasts local to 9km square, while the market prices come from the Kenyan Government body National Farmers Information Service (NAFIS).

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iShamba

iShamba is a project created by Mediae Company, thanks to an award received in 2014 by the TradeMark East Africa Research and Advocacy Challenge Fund (TRAC). iShamba aim to be the first subscription-based service for Kenyan Farmers Club that can directly meet the information needs of Kenyan farmers. The SMS services came after the highly successful Shamba Shape Up television program, which attracts around 4 million viewers in East Africa by providing accessible information about new practices adopted by farmers.