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Mobile service provider Airtel Africa has announced that it
is working with the GSMA to initiate a project to provide approximately 250 000
small-holder farmers in Kenya reliable and relevant agricultural information
via their mobile phones.

Airtel Africa will initiate a project to provide
approximately 250 000 small-holder farmers with reliable and relevant
agricultural information via their mobile phones.


The innovative project, dubbed ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’ (Swahili
for voice of the farmer), aims to provide farmers with access to pertinent
agriculture-related information, advice and research that will help them make
better decisions about their crops, increasing the productivity of their yield,
as well as their potential income.

It will also help create a farmer community within which
peers can share experiences and exchange information about social gatherings,
events, and job opportunities.

“At Airtel, we recognize innovative telecommunications
solutions have the power to transform communities. This initiative is a solid
testament to what partnerships that harness relevant consumer needs can achieve
in overcoming daily challenges. We are excited and thankful to the partners
involved in birthing this initiative,” explains Shivan Bhargava, Managing
Director, Airtel Kenya.

He continues: “Our ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’ project will provide
small-holder farmers with access to quality content, information and know-how
on agriculture-related activities. Gaining access to this information will be
immensely beneficial to the farmers whose livelihoods are dependent on their
yield. The information will allow them to make better informed decisions that
will result in improved productivity.”

As part of the partnership, the GSMA mFarmer initiative –
supported by USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – has awarded
Airtel USD 400,000 to be used towards the ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’ project.

The initiative aims to facilitate the rapid scaling of the
use of mobile phone networks to provide farmers in developing countries with
agricultural information. The funds will be used to develop a reliable database
of content with the help of partners such as the Centre for Agricultural
Bioscience International (CABI), an inter-governmental not-for-profit
organization and radio-based information provider Kilimo Media, as well as to
set up the technological capabilities to execute the project with the help of
world-class technology service providers.

Initially, ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’ will focus on small-holder
Kenyan farmers engaged in maize, banana, mango, rice, beans and horticulture
(tomato and black night shade) crops. Information on more crops will be added
on a quarterly basis. Airtel plans to further develop the model and eventually
replicate it across all its markets on the continent.

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