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M-Calc: An app that predicts crop yields in Kenya


25 July 2012

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Mkulima Calculator (M-Calc) is a web-based application that allows farmers in Kenya to predict their crop yields, giving them access to statistics on soil fertility, required fertilisers and expected crop diseases. M-Calc aims to optimise production and reduce losses farmers incur when they plant specific crops in unsuitable areas.

The application has been developed by students from Strathmore University in Nairobi. The group has completed its pilot project in Mombasa and is looking to roll out the service to other areas. During the pilot, M-Calc provided data on five crops - maize, beans, potato, rice and wheat - which was obtained from FAO database and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). They also used data on weather patterns from the meteorological department.

 

In the next phase, M-Calc is targeting 10,000 farmers in six regions across the country and will provide statistics on six crops, namely cassava, cowpeas, maize, beans, tomato and kale. The application helps farmers improve their yields by giving them statistics and predictions which affect decision making.

 

The application also has an automatic location detector that farmers can use to locate the nearest and best priced farm equipment shops.

 

M-Calc emerged second in the regional Apps4Africa 2011 challenge, which focused on apps that address climate change.

 

The founders are in talks with KARI for a partnership that will see M-Calc rolled out across the country as it secures more data from the government agency. This partnership would help farmers especially in areas where there are no extension services to deal with crop infections. Farmers would be able to submit information about disease symptoms they notice on their crops and receive feedback from M-Calc on what could be the probable disease and which pesticides to use.

 

The group has been engaging farmers to get their opinion on how to improve the service to best suit their needs. M-Calc aims to reach 500,000 to one million farmers in the long-run.
 
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