m:lab East Africa held one of the most interactive mobiles for agriculture meetup in partnership with USAID today. The meetup attracted key stakeholders in the agriculture sectors who met with the farmers and developers to discuss the theme of the day. The Key discussants were; Anuj Tanna VAS Product Manager, Orange, Qureish Noordin, Program Officer, Extension Support Function, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Spencer Morley, Farmforce Implementing Manager Syngenta Foundation for sustainable Agriculture. We also had an Extension officer from Tala and farmers from Nyanza, Western and Eastern Provinces The uptake of mAgric innovations is still slowly picking up especially in the rural areas where most of the farming is taking place. In the previous Wireless Wednesday meetups that we’ve held,most farmers do not know about the existing innovations and for the few who know about the existing innovations not all of them are using them. In today’s Wireless Wednesday, we visited some of the challenges of uptake of mAgric innovations and suggested ways to increase awareness of the innovations. Some of the challenges mentioned include; Cost – Are farmers willing to spend money on available solution? that is one questions that has been asked several times during the meetups. Developers come up with solutions that are expensive for the farmers hence farmers do not use the innovations available. Some of the farmers said they are willing to spend money on a solution that adds value to their production. Targeting the wrong customers – Farming is widely diverse and thus some might require different solutions. Most developers target “all customer” in agriculture without having to factor in the needs of the different customer segments, this leads to unsatisfied customers for example the needs of a dairy farmer might not necessarily be the same as of those of a maize farmer. Blanket information: Most developers put information about everything in the app/solution. The information is not localized or customized for a particular region/type of farming/ specific crop or a specified farmer. Simplicity – The type of message and language used in your solution can contribute to slow uptake of your application. The message should be simple, in a language that is familiar and understandable to your target customers. Do not assume that everyone knows how it works, explain clearly each and
every step of your solution. Ensure that your solution is easy and simple to use Need-driven – The solutions should be more need driven than demand driven. More often developers are more demand driven rather than need driven hence developing a product because it is on demand rather than focusing on the real need of the customers. Linkages and partnerships – Finding the right and trusted organizations to partner with is a big challenge especially for developers. When it comes to marketing your product partnerships is very important. Partnership with trusted organizations/Government gives your product credibility hence creates trust with your users.With an aim of increasing awareness of the mAgric solutions, the following key points were suggested; Partnerships – Partnerships with the right organizations is very important, Developers can leverage on existing networks on the ground like NGOs, farmer groups and Extension officers who can link them to the farmers directly. Such partnerships can help developers reach a good number of farmers at once saving them on cost. Partnerships with also telcos is important as developers can leverage on their mass market reach. Leverage on existing research – Before jumping into your primary market research head first, it’s important that you first seek out existing, relevant research. This not only saves your startup time, but also prevents wasted funding on a product that would have duplicated existing results. In conclusion, developers should strive to make their innovations accessible, affordable and appealing to the right customer target.