iShamba provides farming and climate services in Kenya
A national competition enabled 25,312 farmers across Kenya to sign up to the iShamba farmer mobile service to receive information on selected crops, livestock, weather and market prices. The competition was developed in collaboration with the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Mediae, iShamba, and Usiku Games.
The “Let it rain” competition encouraged viewers of the television program, Shamba Shape Up, which has 7 million weekly viewers in Kenya, to guess the onset of the March to May 2020 “long rains” in their area.
Farmers from 10 counties spread across the main farming zones in Kenya were eligible to play the game, with a prize money of US$1,000 allocated to each county. The prize money was shared among those that guessed correctly within their locality.
The game encouraged farmers to seek out weather services and sources of information that would support them when planting and help them adapt to changing weather patterns. By playing the game, participants were signed up to the iShamba mobile farmer service free of charge. iShamba participants receive timely, seasonal, and regular agricultural tips for crops and livestock, as well as market prices and weather updates for their area.
iShamba participants receive timely, seasonal, and regular agricultural tips for crops and livestock, as well as market prices and weather updates for their area.
A total of 245 participants across the 10 counties guessed the correct date for the onset of the rains. iShamba carried out a follow-up survey to identify how the winners had used their prize money. A random sampling of successful stories showed that 47% invested their prize money in buying farm inputs such as improved seeds, fertilizers and crop protection chemicals. Thirty-seven percent invested in livestock by buying new stocks of chickens, cows or goats. A majority of the winners said that the prize money was helpful to them to cushion the early shocks related to COVID-19 lockdowns.
iShamba Premium members are entered into regional WhatsApp groups where they share success stories, ask questions, access and share photos and video footage, and seek markets for their produce. iShamba’s team of trained agronomists manage the platform and control quality and accuracy of shared information.
In 2019, the iShamba farming and weather service had a total of 356,481 subscribers. In 2020, the “Let it rain” competition contributed significantly to growth in the number of subscribers, with an additional 53,472 subscribing to the service. Through this engagement, iShamba has developed a more advanced and localized weather service.
It now sends weekly, localized weather information within a radius of 5 to 9 kilometers to almost 494,000 farmers. This service allows farmers to plan and plant their crops using more accurate weather information, providing them with greater opportunity to adapt to climate change and improve farm profitability.
The service allows farmers to plan and plant their crops using more accurate weather information, providing them with greater opportunity to adapt to climate change.