The smallholder dairy farmers in Kenya have very less land. Though they are involved in dairy farming, they cannot spare the land resources to be deployed dedicatedly for fodder production. The land (being arid and semi-arid) is not very suitable for quality fodder production. So they have to get fodder from other big farmers, or farmers doing fodder production for commercial purpose.
There are a lot of big farmers doing commercial fodder production using modern techniques like hydroponics, which is landless cultivation of quality fodder using water based cultivation. They sell the fodder to the smallholder dairy farmers.
M-fodder is one such platform to link the smallholder dairy farmers with the commercial fodder producers. The farmers send a SMS to the M-fodder call centre. The call centre arranges the call to farmer from the fodder producer to get their requirements. Then the tentative delivery date is scheduled.
M-fodder is an award-winning mobile information system that links smallholder livestock farmers with hydroponic fodder producers using an affordable SMS system. The fodder producers grow the grass in nutrient-rich hydroponic systems. This system of fodder production is faster and cheaper than traditional soil based system.
Livestock farmers use their mobile phones to order fodder eight days in advance from the M-fodder call-centre. The call centre then arranges the delivery from the closest hydroponic fodder producer. The system is easy and efficient for smallholder farmers to use. Even the women, youth and children are able to use M-fodder effectively. The costs for the service are minimal. They are charged as low as EUR 0.03 per SMS. Following SMS they get call back from the call-centre within 3 minutes to arrange the delivery.
The intervention is very user friendly. The farmers with basic cell phone can use it. There is no middleman involved so the intermediate costs are minimized. This way farmer gets the benefit of good quality fodder on time at a reasonable price. The fodder producers also get the contacts of farmers and get regular business. The fodder producers can plan his batches according to the number of orders for just in time (JIT) delivery of fodder.
by Dr. Meeta Punjabi Mehta, Dr. Ankaj Sharma, Creative Agri Solutions