More than 7,500 coffee farmers in Kenya could start receiving message prompts with warnings on storms and plagues by the end of the year, says the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD).
The automated SMS system that connects farmers’ mobile phones to a central computer is expected to enable farmers around Nairobi and Mount Kenya receive the messages on the phones through an early SMS warning system.
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IICD country manager Anne Marijke Podt said that her organization, alongside the Progreso Foundation and Frontline SMS, are setting up a project with three coffee cooperatives in the Mount Kenya region – Ndumberi, Gakundu and Kagaari.
Podt told HumanIPO that the system is expected to improve service delivery of coffee cooperatives to their members aside from warning farmers of heavy rains ahead.
The software system will also manage automated SMS weight and price systems for the farmers. According to Podt, the SMS platform is linked to a digital weighing system at the coffee factories and would enable farmers to weigh coffee digitally as well as determine accurate pricing.
The project will also foster ICT training and hopes to coach more than 1700 coffee farmers on how to use the SMS system by the end of the year. The farmers will have to download the FrontlineSMS software set up by the farmers’ cooperative societies.
The project is the first of its kind in the country.
Progreso, an organisation that helps improve the living conditions of small organized producers by helping them access technical assistance, began in 2001 when coffee prices drastically collapsed, affecting the socio-economic conditions of millions of small producers in Latin America, Africa and Asia. It presently works with more than 25 coffee and cocoa organizations in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
IICD is a non-profit foundation that specialises in information and communication technologies (ICT) as a tool for sustainable development in Africa and Latin-America. It creates practical and sustainable solutions using computers, Internet, email and multimedia and radio and television to connect people and enable them to benefit from ICT.
At present, IICD is active in Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Peru, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe in the sectors economic development, education and health.