Cows seem to be getting all the attention from TV ads, to having their own beauty pageant, to controversy and scandals in Kiambu. I digress. Anyway, there is reason to have positive focus on cows as the dairy business in Kenya is one of the most vibrant sectors of the agriculture industry. To tap into the into the 5 million dairy farmers population in the country Safaricom recently partnered with Green Dreams Ltd in the development of an SMS based mobile application aimed at promoting smart dairy farming called iCow.
By subscribing to the short code, *285#, Kenyaâ€™s 5 million dairy farmers can now access tips on better farming methods which will help them improve their dairy output and subsequently, their revenues for Kshs. 3 per message. The USSD menu has a structured menu for ease of use.
iCow, has three main features namely: Kalenda, Mashauri and Vet. Kalenda offers farmers nutritional and vaccination tips for their cows during the gestational period up to and birth. Mashauri on the other hand is a service that sends farmers three SMS tips every week on dairy farming while the Vet and Artificial Insemination service links farmers with professional veterinarians within their respective geographical areas on demand.
According to Su Kahumbu of Green Dreams Ltd â€œiCow survey data shows farmers who have been on iCow for 7 months begin to realise an increase of milk of between 2-3 litres per animal per day. This is an increase of about 610-930 litres a year which translates into an average increased income of 25-30k per animal per year. iCow data shows farmers have reduced cow and calf mortality thus enabling farmers grow their greatest asset base.”