Smart phone farming: Apps every farmer must have

Cattle keepers are encouraged to embrace ICT to monitor their animals during this Covid - 19 pandemic. Photo by Rachel Mabala.

What you need to know:

In times such as lockdowns when extension workers are limited in movement, some phone apps offer great benefits to farmers, writes George Katongole

Agriculture is increasingly evolving in the face of technology. There are many technologically driven initiatives elsewhere in the world that help farmers face their challenges especially weather, pests and markets.
With several tech-savvy youth trying to make a contribution to farming, several phone applications are available. In times such as lockdowns when extension workers are limited in movement, here are some phone apps that offer great benefits to farmers.

Feed calculator
This app is helpful in making feed mixtures at the lowest prices without an extension worker. According to Dr Joshua Isiko, the sales and research consultant of the app, the aim is to keep costs of production as low as possible.
“Many livestock keepers are turned away by the high costs of production. But with this amazing optimising app, farmers can get the best quality feeds at the lowest possible prices,” Dr Isiko explains. The app helps formulate feed mixtures for broilers, layers, pigs, catfish and tilapia.

For farmers and feed mills, they can easily get the right feed mixtures at their fingertips. The app has been downloaded more than 50,000 times and Dr Isiko blames the low intake on the previous requirements of paying subscriber fees. “We are now working on making it affordable to the farmers,” says Dr Isiko.
Rated 4.1, the Feed Calculator works by one selecting the type of livestock and include the age and desired quantity.
Then the farmer adds the feed ingredients available in the area by adding their current prices. On pressing the calculate button, the farmer gets the desired mixture.

Jaguza livestock
Jaguza Farm is an artificial intelligence app that incorporates Machine Learning and Tensor Flow to solve farm issues in real-time. Jaguza bases on cows’ movements from a wearable sensor.
From the information, developers can be able to detect the animal’s eating, resting, fertility and temperature, among others. But the greatest benefit is to detect problems earlier and provide recommendations to farmers.
This helps keep cows healthy which improves farm efficiency. According to app developer Ronald Katamba, Jaguza Livestock can help in management of flock by recording dairy milking, real-time heat detection, projecting potential yields and manage feed rations.
The app, which is downloadable from Google Play Store goes for $50 (about Shs180,000) for the basic package with the premium package available for $100 (about Shs37,000) and the corporate package at $300 (about Shs1m) per month.

The award winning interactive app was developed by five Ugandan youth with an aim of linking farmers to genuine suppliers of agro inputs including pesticides.
It also connects farmers to suppliers, buyers, service providers and produce traders. According to Esther Karwera, Akiron’s business development officer, the app works by a farmer taking a picture of the pests in their gardens and sending it to the app.
On identifying the pest, the farmer gets feedback on the possible pesticides to apply and genuine suppliers.
The free app is available on Google Play Store. They have community agents who help people without smart phones.
Taking a space of just 5mb, the three-star rated app has been downloaded more than 100,000 times. The app which was released on June 12, 2019, is diverse as it shows the weather forecast.

Developed by Makerere University students, the app is aimed at removing middlemen from the food crop supply chain.
The app provides smallholder farmers with real-time information on markets and the latest news on farming inputs.
All a farmer needs is to download the app and take a picture of the produce which he/she uploads with details on price and contact number. In other words, it helps to sell right at the farm.
It also provides extra information on the fertilisers to use in the garden. Developed in 2018, it takes up to 12mb of storage. It is supported by an updated website on latest product prices.

Hello Tractor
Mechanisation is a preferred form of pushing for more agriculture production. This is where Hello Tractor app comes in.
The smart way is beneficial as it offers telematics, GPS and data analytics in real time. Supported by tractor franchise John Deere Africa, the app focuses on developing solutions for smallholder farmers by optimizing farm productivity. Hello Tractor connects tractor owners to farmers through an Internet of Things (IoT) enabled digital solution.
It works by installing a hardware monitoring device on the tractor. The device is connected to Hello Tractor cloud for remote tracking and analytics.
The app helps tractor owners see requests for tractor services. This app is helpful in bridging the tractor deficit in Uganda.