Mobile technology continues to expand its ability to assist various sectors, including the agricultural industry. In Africa, 40% of the population now have access to internet browsing on their phones according to It News Africa, while ownership of smartphones continue to increase in the continent. As mobile device usage strengthens in Africa, projects related to economic stabilization, including technological advancements in farming and agriculture, have blossomed.
Mobile devices provide the farming sector plenty of benefits. First, it is the best means of communication – whether accessing forecasts, fluctuating market prices, or even helpful livestock care tips – especially, for farmers in the developing countries.
Today, platforms that offer communication tools for businesses, the government, and NGOs in connecting with farmers have started offering effective ways to improve the future of farming in Africa. In particular, Esoko offers an easy-to-use and simple tool for marketing, monitoring, and advisory needs of the sector by mixing web and mobile apps, informative agricultural content, and deployment services.
With specific apps, farmers and businesses are aided with day-to-day information that is vital to their daily work, such as sourcing weather reports and prices for crops. Since unexpected weather conditions can cost farmers significant amounts of money, mobile services that offer them a safety net when it comes to rains, floods, droughts, pests, and diseases become essential to safeguard crops during inclement conditions.
Over time, we have seen how farming has also inspired mobile technology, where games featuring barns, farmers, and farm animals have been released on the gaming market. Who could forget the very popular online game FarmVille that was once only available as a Facebook game but has since expanded its reach to a mobile app. Even after five years on the market, CNN suggest millions of players still play the game. Other farm-inspired titles have also appeared online and in mobile games, such as the popular ‘Little Pigs Strike Back’ and ‘Piggy Payout’ which are featured among vast array of titles on Spin Genie. And while these gaming titles certainly won’t help farmers increase profits or monitor their crops and live stock it does show the popularity mobile devices and their respective apps are nowadays.
Currently, about 13% of African farmers utilize phones for agricultural purposes, but GSMA project the number to rise 30% by 2020.
“The mobile phone is a ubiquitous tool present in all remote places, especially in villages, where it is sometimes the only piece of technology people own,” said former head of digital operations at Millicom International Cellular Alexandre N’djore. “If we want African farmers to have the same knowledge as farmers do in other parts of the world, [the] mobile phone is the best tool.”