Kenya 'Telephone Farmers' Harvesting On Hi-Tech

Farmers in Kenya "are making use of a growing number of technologies and platforms to help them choose and manage their crops more efficiently," according to a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) report.

The report says a growing number of 'telephone farmers', who live in the city are making use of mobile devices to monitor effectively what goes on in their farms while working in the cities.

"Tech giant IBM's EZ-Farm project - currently being trialed in Kenya - is exploring how sophisticated data analytics can help farmers keep in touch with what is really happening on their out-of-town smallholdings," the report said.

The technology allows the farmer to strategically place sensors around the farm to monitor water tank levels, the amount of moisture in the soil, including the performance of irrigation equipment.

Also, installed infrared cameras in the farm measure rates of photosynthesis, which can indicate whether crops are being watered too much or too little.

The information gathered by this technology is then streamed wirelessly to the IBM Cloud and accessed by the farmer through a smart mobile phone application.

"These 'telephone farmers' can often only travel to visit their farms at weekends," says IBM lead water and agriculture researcher, Dr Kala Fleming. "They are looking for smart solutions to better manage the water resources needed to irrigate and grow their crops," he stated.

Other hi-tech organisations also seek to launch value-added services by creating a digital network of small-scale farms and water users to generate revenue and increase productivity.

Another application known as "MbeguChoice" has also been launched to assist smallholder farmers who cannot afford the hi-tech stated above.

The mobile application requires the user to answer a few simple questions about their location and the desired type of crop, and then says what seed varieties are available, who sells them, and what properties they have, such as maturation periods and drought tolerance.