Lindi — More and more smallholder farmers in Tanzania are now harnessing the power of technology to help them connect to agricultural services, information and markets.
A few quick finger-pokes on the keypad of a mobile phone costing as little as $10 is all it takes for some farmers to obtain information about the optimum time to plant their seeds. Or it can be an inquiry into the right way to keep pests at bay and the best market to sell their produce.
It's through this fast growth acceptance of mobile technology to people in rural areas which has influenced Tigo to venture into agriculture by starting a special program to showcase farmers on how mobile farming could help solve their impediments.
Many of these Apps were demonstrated during the annual Nanenane Exhibition which for this year took place in Mtwara at national level.
Tigo has pioneered a mobile farming technology that enables Tanzanian farmers to know commodity market prices, availability of buyers and sellers as we well as weather forecast information through their phones.
Tigo's Corporate Communications Manager, John Wanyancha told East African Business Week during a briefing organized jointly with Tanzania Agricultural Society (TASO).
Tigo is also co-sponsoring of the annual Nanenane exhibition as a gesture of supporting farmers in the country turn around their lives through the use of modern farming techniques.
"We can all hold witness to how the sector of agriculture firmly contributes to socio-economic welfare of our country," Wanyancha said.
Almost 80% of the population carry out agriculture as an economic activity. therefore farmers have a very significant contribution to our society he said.
Speaking to East African Business Week during the event organized by OFAB Tanzania chapter recently, the Chief Researcher of the Commission of Science and Technology in Tanzania, Dr Nicholaus Nyange said the proper use of mobile farming is very crucial to farmers.
"The better use of mobile farming could help farmers make better decisions and hence create a better room for them to do good business for their produce," Dr Nyange said.
Dr Nyange said mobile farming technology could also help farmers to solve most of their impediments that have been driving back agricultural growth.
He added, these mobile phone apps help farmers, land owners and animal owners to work faster and more accurately in the field - where your animals and crops need you.
Lindi Regional Commissioner, Ludovick Mwananzila said that his region was grateful to be hosting this year's national Nane Nane exhibition.
Mwananzila insisted there is much to learn, and benefit from Nan7enane.
He said, "We thank Tigo for recognizing Lindi as a place worth their investment he said adding that it is our expectation that your presence at the exhibition will expose your business to potential customers and a good number of Lindi residents who continue to enjoy your services."
The TASO Chairman, Engelbery Moyo, welcomed Tigo's sponsorship noting that it was the only mobile phone service company to sponsor the event.
He also recommended the mobile phone efforts to showcase the better use of mobile farming and how this technology would help to boost farmers' productivity.
"On behalf of TASO, and on my own behalf, I would like to thank Tigo for giving their material and financial support to make this event a success. I would also like to inform all stakeholders that preparations are going on well as planned... and we welcome them to Nane Nane which is happening for the first time in Lindi this year," he said.
On his side, Tigo's Head of Digital Lifetyle, Yaya Ndjore called upon all farmers to use the company mobile farming solution known as 'Tigo Kilimo' as a means to get useful information that can help improve their yields, to get the best of market information and prices for their crops and also allows farmers to meet buyers and sellers of their crops.
According to Ndjore, Tigo customers can access the farming product through a free of charge SMS service by dialing *148*14# where they will access the latest market prices, weather forecasts, and better cultivating methods for crops such as cashenuts, maize, sweet potatoes among others.
"Farmers have a great opportunity to enjoy our service not only because our Tigo Kilimo service can reach any registered customer through our wide established network but also because a farmer does not have to pay for anything to register and access this service, including the information menu itself," Ndjore said.
Mobile farming technology seemed to be timely as most Tanzania farmers have been crying due to poor access for market and lack of reliable information. Most farmers have been in dark to know commodity market prices, availability of buyers and sellers as well as get a quick weather forecast.
The accessibility of this technology to farmers could help them minimizing their impediments.
It will also help reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving human health and nutrition, and ensuring more sustainable management of natural resources.