Storm warnings: the next big Kenyan mobile innovation?

Some pretty impressive mobile innovations have come to the world’s attention after Kenyan success. MPesa and Ushahidi come to mind immediately. Now a couple of organisations in the country want to use SMS to warn farmers about potential disasters.

According to The Next Web, the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) thinks that some 7 500 coffee farmers in the Nairobi and Mount Kenya regions could be receiving SMSes from an automated warning system by the end of the year.

The IICD has built the system in collaboration with the Progreso Foundation and Frontline SMS. Together the organisations will pilot the project among three coffee cooperatives in the Mount Kenya region.

The software can do more than just inform farmers about incoming storms or plagues though. According to IICD country manager Anne Marijke Pod, it will also manage automated SMS weight and price systems. The system is reportedly linked to a digital weighing system at coffee factories that will allow farmers to weigh and price their coffee accurately.

Some 1 700 farmers will receive training on the technology by the end of the year, once they’ve downloaded the FrontlineSMS software.

According to its website IICD is an organisation dedicated to helping people in emerging markets through education and access to information technology. It is active in Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Peru, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Progreso meanwhile is an organisation dedicated to helping coffee growers by giving them financial, technical and market assistance. At present, Progreso collaborates with more than 25 coffee and cocoa organizations in Latin America, Africa and Asia.



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