Monthly Archives: June 2012

Lessons learnt from Thika farmers.

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A horticulture farm in Thika

This weekend, I had the previllage to visit a farm I managed during my days as an intern at Bayer CropScience and I must say I am impressed by the farming going on there.
If all Kenyan farmers were as aggressive as the farmers I met today then we would definately be able to feed this country and have plenty more to sell.
What I learnt is that farming is not just ploughing the land and putting seeds on the ground. There is a lot more that needs to be done for example farm scouting for pests and diseases. A farmer also needs to understand the nutrients that are needed in the farm and he should ensure that his/her farm is well maintained.
The most important thing is that farming should be treated as a business and this calls for record keeping. A serious farmer should be able to keep records of all the activities in the farm.
Another important thing is market information, before you decide to venture into any type of farming you should do a market research to know if there is a good market for your produce.

Smarter farming via text messaging

For the past couple of days I have been testing Next.us  messaging app and I thing this the best app that can transform agribusiness  in the region. This app is designed to create social and economic value for its users by connecting them to people and organizations nearby with whom they share common interests or concerns.

It works best for the agribusiness sector because it can be used across the agribusiness value chain.

The farmer can use it for the following purposes;

1.Get information on farm inputs

2. Get market information- Where to sell and the best market price

3. They get a chance to interact with the service providers e.g agro- chemical companies through text messaging.

Because most farmers can only afford low-cost prepaid cellular phones, Next2 has created this service so that it can be accessed mostly  through SMS (Short Message Service). The service can also be accessed online.

The app is simple and easy to use

The best thing about this Service  is that is affordable to the user. It costs  only 1 Kshs to send a text and it is free to receive.

To register Send a text to 5557 starting with reg, username, region and Country

e.g for Kips I will text reg kips Nairobi Kenya

What I love most about this app is the “Get” Command

This is where the user updates the info on what you offer by logging in  to http://m.next2.us/ after you register.

Once logged in go to my my files and add the description to what you offer. Other users can then be able to get this by texting “Get username X” e.g if you text get kips to 5557 you will be able to get the about kips.

Here are a few points to note about Next2

1) You MUST start any text message to 5557 using your Safaricom line, with a recognized Nx2 command (reg, loc, srad, 4, addp, addpp, get unreg). Download a list of commands and their meanings here
 
2) Next2 will REPLY BACK TO EVERY SMS sent to 5557  EXCEPT direct text command “4”  So you should either receive SMS back that your text was processed and your data update or your will get a message “command not know, please try again”  If you get this then that means we did not understand your txt msg and could not update your account.
 
3) Please watch your spaces in your SMS messages. Please only have one space between words whenever possible.
 
4) You can use the unreg command at anytime.  This stop the service and we delete all your information from our server AND your name is immediately available again to reuse.  So find a nice short name that is easy to remember that you want to use.  You can use the SMS ‘unreg to test that it works properly but dont’ worry about losing your Nx2 name.  You can use the reg command again immediately to reg using the same name.
 
5) Next2 allows for creating web page by SMS.  So when you send SMS command you can see it changed at your Next2 web page.
 
6) Your web page is your name after the url http://m.next2.us/  Example http://m.next2.us/kips  Not all SMS commands are reflected in your Nx2 mobile web page but some like loc, srad and addp are reflected in the web page.

For more info.  download the Next2 SMS user guide  Tweet me on @kipsizoo

 
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