Green Revolution 2: Apps for Farmers

Doing paperwork has proven to be unsustainable but also entirely cumbersome in recent years given the multiplication of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. From Australia to America, Canada to Kenya, a paradigm shift towards cloud computing is being felt in the world and this could only expedite the clamor for less paper consumption.

Tradespersons have progressively depended on cloud-based applications to manage invoicing, bookkeeping and other jobs instead of filling their dashboards with unnecessary clutter. In particular, most farmers have looked and used the Cloud for a chance to turn a profit and save the earth all at the same time.

The G8 Involvement

In April, the Group of 8 nations (also known as the G-8) called a conference to encourage entrepreneurs to develop software and apps from a newly opened agriculture data community. As it stands, the government is an affluent repository of information concerning everything from crop genetics to global warming stats.

Such data lead to mobile apps whose number could overwhelm farmers. Therefore, companies like Australia-based TradiePad have had the foresight of creating, sifting and synthesising the most relevant apps for them. This strategy effectively does away with trial-and-error nature of app usage.

Though too plentiful, mobile apps attract agriculture stakeholders because of their unparalleled access to real-time data.

In Canada, farmers actively seek apps for crop scouting or those designed to assess the risk of pests and weeds infiltrating a field. Hundreds of Canadian soybean farmers have greatly improved their pest contingencies through an app called Aphid Advisor. The app, developed at the University of Guelph, informs farmers’ pesticide use by showing them the prevalence of aphids’ natural predators in a given area.

Agri Apps in Africa

Future-forward farming is not a cartel of the Global North though. Down in Kenya, where agriculture represents  75 percent of the country’s workforce and 24 percent of the GDP, apps have become in vogue.

Kenya’s government is quite proactive on this front. In April, it considered opening real-time market information to farmers and vowed to equip extension practitioners with mobile devices by 2014 to pool data.

Private IT companies have already made a head start in boosting Kenya’s agricultural productivity and efficiency. Last year the country hosted a competition among mobile start-ups. The finalists of which were mostly agriculture-related apps.

One popular agrarian app in Kenya today is iCow, which prompts users via SMS when their cattle are most fertile. The text messages come complete with suggested dates for calving and insemination. iCow also offers analytics like milk production, GPS locations of veterinarians and a built-in market for livestock buyers and sellers.

M-Farm is another innovative convenience for many Kenyan farmers. This app checks wholesale market prices of over 40 crops in Kenya. In other words, it frees farmers from grovelling to broker-dictated prices. Moreover, the app has agents who can streamline the bulk buying process, leading to higher profits for farmers.

Even more essential is M-Pesa, a money transferring app used by about 20 million Kenyans. Farmers use the app to take non- cash payments and cooperatives are known to disburse loans through it.

Positive Bottom-line

According to a 2012 report by the World Bank, market intelligence from mobile phones contributed to rising bottom-lines for farmers in several African nations. Vodafone even predicted that mobile devices would lift Africa’s agricultural income by almost $50 billion in the next seven years.

Meanwhile, logging practices worldwide continues as the need for paper and pulp remains. America alone consumes 71 million tons of paper and paperboard. Fortunately, compensation, if not redemption, arrives as cloud-based apps.

Agriculture has truly come a long way from the wheel and burrow. With the availability of these apps, the wheel is being reinvented yet again.

*About the Author: Guest post written by Sharon Freeman, an Australian freelance writer who writes about tradies software and about brands like

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