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Safaricom to launch app for dairy farmers

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore says iCow is expected to fill the gap that currently exists between farmers and the agricultural extensions officers. Photo/FILE
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore says iCow is expected to fill the gap that currently exists between farmers and the agricultural extensions officers. Photo/FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Safaricom will Wednesday launch a mobile software application that will enable dairy farmers access information on feeding, disease prevention, milking methods and calf management.

The new software is aimed at boosting data and Short Message Service (SMS) usage. The application, dubbed iCow, is the product of a partnership between the mobile operator and Green Dreams Tech Ltd.

It will create a simple digital solution for dairy farmers looking to improve the way they manage their livestock.

Farmers will need to register their cows for free through an iCow portal and will get regular SMSs at a fee of Sh3, triple the amount Safaricom charges for normal short messages.

The telco, which has 19 million customers on its network, says it is targeting close to seven million small-scale farmers with the service that will be launched Wednesday at a facility owned by Brookside Breeders Show near the Jamhuri showground.

“The application, which has been running on pilot for some time now, is expected to fill the gap that currently exists between farmers and the agricultural extensions officers,” said Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore in a phone interview with the Business Daily.

A freeze on the hiring of extension officers and lower budget support has diminished the role of advisory services in Kenya’s agro sector, especially in the rural areas.

This gap is what Safaricom is seeking to plug using applications like iCow, which are expected to rev up data and SMS use at a moment when the operator is looking to reduce its reliance on volatile voice business.

Safaricom earned Sh10.13 billion in the year ended March 2013, up from Sh7.73 billion the year earlier, from the SMS sent in the quarter to December, making the segment a larger business than rival’s entire voice operations.

Recently, the mobile telephone operator has intensified its appetite for mobile applications, which has seen it strike a number of partnerships with local developers to boost its data business.

READ: Safaricom takes on plastic money with mobile wallet
It is preparing to launch a subscription-based mobile solution that will connect job seekers with employers.

The mobile solution dubbed Job Finder is among six identified by Vodafone for introduction in 12 African countries where it operates.

mokuttah@ke.nationmedia.com