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The 16th of October is World Food Day with the main
objective being to increase public awareness of global food problems that
countries are currently experiencing, as well as to strengthen unity amongst
nations in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
Smartphones and mobile apps play an important role in
helping countries overcome some of these problems.
In fact, today with the advancements in technology, what we
are witnessing is that these improvements are allowing a sector, like the
farming community, the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and insight all
through an application that can be downloaded on their smartphones.

This is proving very successful if you consider that many
farmers are in areas that are often hindered by poor infrastructure and/or
financial restrictions. Certainly, the appeal of these apps is not limited to
merely developing countries – but has even helped to make the lives of
first-world farmers a little easier.
So, what are the apps that have lead this change? and what
are some of the ways that they have positively impacted the lives of farmers
and assisted in supply and production?
Financial assistance
In America, there is a free mobile app that assists dairy
farmers with monthly financial planning by tracking feed costs and income.
The DairyCents app helps farmers estimate income over feed
cost per cow. This in turn provides an indication of exactly how much money is
left to pay other expenses. The app also lets farmer to compare costs of feed.
This leads to greater volumes of production and overall cost saving for the
farmers.
Proving access to information
As many farmers don’t exactly have an ‘office space’ it is
no surprise that apps have become attractive business tools for agriculture.
They are being used track irrigation, monitor soil quality, record herd
information and track weather conditions.
In San Joaquin Valley in California, an area that tends to
face water shortages, a farmer who specialises in cotton, tomatoes, onions,
pistachios and wine-grapes does so with the help of a mobile app that tracks
his water usage to effectively manage irrigation. The app tells the amount of
water going into a particular field and what the state of the soil is in the
area. As the ground gets wet, the app provides the farmer with a graph that
shows precise wetting patterns.

The case for app usage in Africa
Agricultural app development in Africa has formed out of
necessity to help reduce starvation and poverty initiatives already underway
and the high volume of mobile users in Africa makes the app space in the market
perfect.
Making the impossible possible, farmers in Ghana can now use
their mobile phones to send a text message to find out about crop prices in
Accra which is over 400km away. Furthermore, a UK company has developed an app
that helps farmers in Kenya monitor and protect their greenhouse crops from
changing weather conditions, pests, and overheating.
The app allows farmers to remotely control and monitor
plants in their greenhouses by maintaining consistent crop temperatures.
Additional smart farm features are planned, including temperature and humidity
sensors that can enhance the growth and health of crops while reducing the
amount of water and energy required.
The future
The benefits and opportunities of mobile growth in
agriculture will far outweigh any operational costs – and can provide a real
solution for farmers – which in turn will in fact world food problems and
possible help with shortage problems.
To this end, in January this year, SEACOM announced that it
would be providing funding towards the development of a new Swahili and English
language application for Tanzanian farmers that will collect market information
on commodity prices across a number of major markets and help farmers 
secure the best possible prices for their produce.
By continuing to improve the quality of life in some of the
world’s poorest countries, investors and app developers can provide inexpensive
access to mobile content that can offer innovative solutions that help solve
local problems.

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