iShamba, a custom SMS application, provides Kenyan farmers with access to the latest market prices, weather forecasts and agricultural tips. 

Background

Mediae is a trusted source of agricultural information in Kenya and the organisation behind hit television series Shamba Shape Up – a programme helping smallholder farmers improve pest management, irrigation, cattle rearing and crop management techniques.

Approximately 75% of Kenya’s working population are smallholders, many with limited or zero access to the internet. But what they do have is SMS.

Access to additional information beyond the TV programme could enable many farmers to be more productive and ultimately raise their family income.   

iShamba

Photo credit: Media

Smallholder farmers using iShamba

iShamba objectives

  • Help people make the most of their smallholdings by disseminating important agricultural information via SMS and a call centre service
  • Operate a sustainable social business model

Solution

We helped set up two channels to disseminate agricultural information:

  • An opt-in SMS service which sends out tailored information to subscribers based upon a personal profile
  • A call centre with a huge database of agricultural information to provide answers to more complex questions

Both have different service levels and are available as a freemium or premium subscription. iShamba also drives extra revenue by collaborating with local business partners, providing subscribers with vouchers for agricultural supplies.

Data quality

The information provided to subscribers via SMS and through the call centre is sourced from a variety of places, so a lot of work has to been done to ensure the quality of data remains high.  

Open data

Contingency plans have been built in for many different scenarios, such as always being able to access third party data when needed, to answer timely questions about the weather or market prices.

Customer data

Many small farms share phones, so we had to be cleverer than using just a telephone number to identify the account and provide tailored information.

Results

Less than a year after launch iShamba has: