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Gates Foundation issues US$26mn grant to East African farmers

The Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation has issued a US$26mn grant to boost technology among dairy farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania

The grant, given through the Heifer International, will be used to implement technology projects under the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project.

The funds targets 136,000 households and focuses on new technologies and practice among dairy farmers.

“We aim to change the dairy industry through technology to improve food security and nutrition as well as sustainable livelihoods for farmers,” said Onesmus Shuma, EADD regional director.

In recent years ICT applications have changed the way dairy farmers do business in the country.

Among the new technologies is ‘ iCow’ an application which allows farmers to manage their herds by acquiring expert advice via mobile phones. Developed by Sue Kahumbu, farmers are able to receive tailored text messages on cattle prices, feed schedules, veterinary care and disease outbreaks.

Another application M-Farm connects farmers to marketers and input suppliers through their mobile phones.

“Mobile applications are transforming farming in Kenya but there is need for closer collaboration between farmers, apps developers, research institutions, markets and other actors. This should provide avenue for the provision of necessary information and extension services”, said Kenya’s ICT Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i.

Mwangi Mumero