Post Harvest Challenges in Agriculture - Can Mobile Apps Help?

By Editor
  Published 14 Sep 2012
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By Sheilah Birgen
The fourth Wireless Wednesday meet up on mobile innovations in agriculture sawmobile apps developers, entrepreneurs, farmers, NGOs, financial advisors,media, government representatives, and other stakeholders review apps that target post-harvest challenges.

The August 29th event, sponsored by USAID through DAI and organized by m:lab East Africa, had farmers representatives from Western, Central, Eastern, Coast and Rift Valley Provinces and other attendees give developers feedback on their applications. The event started with developers giving the attendees brief demos of the apps to familiarize them with the applications before the reviews.

The applications reviewed were:
  • Soko Huru:An app that offers farmers a platform and businessmen to market and buy farm products respectively.
  • Packhouse Manager:An innovative Desktop software program that makes it easy for exporters of fresh produce to easily manage their Farms, packhouses and Farmers that supply them with produce.
  • Soko Shambani:An SMS platform that allows farmers of Potatoes to connect with buyers.
  • Ukulima:Farmers mobile social network product
A summary of the feedback given by farmers and other agricultural stakeholders present is as follows :-
  1. Work with the end users:When developing and implementing an application, work with people who will eventually use your product. This allows you to give them a finished product they can relate with, since they had input during development.
  2. Join bodies that work with your end users:Developers were advised to join organizations that work with farmers and farmer groups. This gives their applications credibility as well as an edge because of the affiliation of these organizations the constantly work with.
  3. Research:Before you develop an application, research. Researching helps a developer examine specific questions, issues or problems in a given field before developing an application in that field. They were encouraged to keep searching even after the application has been developed to keep improving their product for the users sake.
  4. Engagement:After developing the application, devs were encouraged to, keep contact with your users. Having a feedback mechanisms on your platform is a good way to do this so as to keep constant engagement with the end users.
  5. Rapport: Understand the end users to be able to establish your commonality and create a relationship with them. Understand that they have preference, feelings and deserve to be treated with respect. Don’t exploit your end users emotionally or economically. Creating a rapport with the end users makes them your product’s ambassadors.
Additional suggestions and feedback given to developers and mobile entrepreneurs targeting agricultural solutions was given in previous Wireless Wednesday events. A recap of these suggestions may be found in previous articles in this blog as follows 27th June 2012 : Reviewing Mobile Applications Targeting Agricultural Productivity 25th April 2012: Using mobile tech to overcome post harvest challenges in horticulture 29th Feb 2012: Nine considerations for implementing apps for Agriculture 29th Feb 2012:Using technology to enhance productivity in agricultural value chains In October we will have two Wireless Wednesday: health and agriculture focused. On 3rd October the first event on health will take place, the event is themed “ Understanding the mHealth Ecosystem”. The fifth event on mobile innovations in agriculture will be on 31st October.
About Wireless Wednesday:
Wireless Wednesday events are in essence focus group discussions sessions between mobile developers and practitioners or experts in various industry domains. Mobile developers and entrepreneurs have in the recent past attempted to introduce new innovations intended to inject efficiencies in the agricultural value chain. It is in an effort to amplify these attempts and their potential impact that m:lab East Africa has got support from USAID to organize a series of “Wireless Wednesday” events throughout the year. The focus group discussions will be aimed at facilitating sharing of knowledge between developers and the subject matter experts in agriculture. Wireless Wednesday events are also opportunities for networking among mobile developers, entrepreneurs, domain practitioners and development partners. Read More Wireless Wednesday Posts Here
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