iCow, a mobile app that sends text messages to African farmers on animal husbandry and best practices, was ranked Africa’s best mobile agricultural app at a conference in Rwanda, according to a Wall Street Journal report in AllAfrica.
Animal farmers can access expert information for less than a U.S. penny per message, and 12,000 farmers have subscribed to the service, the report said. More than half the subscribers – 55 percent – are ages 18 to 35. iCow has three main features: it lets farmers keep track of animals during the gestation period; sends farmers three text messages a week on best agricultural practices; and gives information on artificial insemination. The service links farmers with veterinarians.
IT News Africa conducted the rankings at the ICT4Ag conference.
“We are very excited that IT News Africa has recognized iCow as a leading social innovation this early into its life,” said iCow founder Su Kahumbu. “We are continuously expanding our offering to farmers and just recently, we introduced information on rearing indigenous chickens.”
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore spoke about the importance of social innovations, according to the report. “The mobile phone explosion being witnessed in Sub Saharan Africa has positioned the device as an important tool in addressing social needs. In line with our vision of transforming lives, we have a team dedicated to the introduction of mobile apps such as iCow, which provide solutions to social issues.”
Another Kenyan app, M-Shamba, ranked in the top 10 mobile agricultural apps. It is an interactive platform used by about 4,000 rice farmers to help them adopt new technologies in rice farming, the report said.