1. ICT Strategy For Agriculture in Kenya.
2. Mobile Application Development
ICT plays an important role in agriculture, with different types of ICT having different strengths and weaknesses when applied to particular interventions. Impacts of ICT are diverse, and they influence market competitiveness in different ways. However, technology should not replace the people and institutions involved but rather leverage them to perform better and more efficiently.
Agricultural marketing in Kenya faces many challenges notably fluctuating prices due to demand and supply. This is due to poor diversification of farming activities.The diverse climatic conditions experienced all over the country imply that regions have specialized in production of specific products, hence the need for reliable information about the market to ensure profitable marketing and reduced unhealthy competition. Knowledge about weather, geological information,and demand patterns is key to better future marketing trends.
Farmers need to understand the weather before moving to the market. They need to understand locations based on maps to enable them deliver the products to the right places and profitably by evaluating transport costs before-hand.Marketing brings together sellers and buyers from diverse backgrounds but with common interest to a common platform. Language diversity is a very big challenge in this setting as most farmers are illiterate.
Promoting the use of language that changes based on the context is important if significant changes are to be realized.
Ours is a mobile application solution that is aimed at providing a platform where sellers and buyers can virtually meet,interact and transact business. The sellers are allowed to post the products that they want to dispose while prospective buyers will post what they want to buy. Contacts are provided by the two parties and the posts can be read by everyone who has the application. The interested party then contacts the party that posted and agree on terms and conditions.
The app will provide a finance transaction platform where one of the parties can pay a deposit as security.The application will provide language configuration settings which will allow the user to adjust language settings to the language that best suits their needs. This will ensure more efficient transactions and consumer satisfaction. Local languages will be implemented as part of the application configuration language. Weather patterns and GPS services will be provided to aid the seller or buyer to plan well as weather conditions are known to disrupt transport and farming activities.Secure efficient and reliable online money transfer and payment services will be integrated to aid in the marketing process.
Farmers also need to be notified about new trends, diseases, climatic changes and new products in the market by implementing push notifications and SMS subscriptions.The application is developed using IBM Worklight Studio which is a powerful platform with rich libraries to enable the accomplishment of our system requirements. By employing plugins available such as JQuery Mobile for User Interface design,adapters: SQL, HTTP, JMS our app is able to allow sending and receiving of SMS, storage and retrieval of back-end data, ensuring secure app besides communicating with other devices on a network.
While the positive impacts of ICT are being cataloged and discussed, many rural farmers do not have access to or the capacity to leverage ICT in their daily activities.There exist similar applications such as M-Soko and OLX which have really established a name in the market. Ours addresses the shortcomings of the same as it deals with the challenge of language. The foregoing is operated in english; ours will enable use of local languages alongside the well-established languages like english. It will also provide information about weather patterns which is really indispensable especially in Kenya where adverse weather patterns usually disrupt agriculture. This is a functionality that the previous two do not address. Online payment capabilities are another improvement we aim to leverage to ensure that ours is unrivaled.
Challenges and risks.
Security is a major factor especially concerning how to ascertain the authenticity of the orders placed and posts provided.Determination of the level of security measures to be put in place before actual transaction can take place is a challenge as the scope is unclear. Chances of fraud resulting from online money transfer are increased. Putting up strict measures to curb that poses the greatest challenge as far as efficiency, reliability and quality is concerned. A buyer will be required to provide authentic information alongside payment of a deposit fee to serve as security and proof of devotion. We aim to liaise with the ministry of agriculture,trade and industry and internal security to ensure better and more secure service.
Language barriers and illiteracy is another factor.We aim to address that by incorporating as many local languages as possible. The user will thus choose the one that best suits them.
1.E-Agriculture. (n.d). Agricultural Value Chains and ICT. Retrieved from http://www.e-agriculture.org/agricultural-value-chains-and-ict
2.World Bank (2011). ICT in Agriculture: Connecting Smallholders to Knowledge, Networks and Institutions.Retrieved from http://www.ictinagriculture.org/sourcebook/module-9-strengthening-agricultural-marketing
3.Hall, T. (October, 2012). ICT: Changing the Face of Agriculture.Retrieved from http://www.ictworks.org/2011/10/12/ict-changing-face-agriculture/