MoA-INFO – taking digital agriculture to Kenya’s heartland

MoA-INFO, delivered in partnership with the Government of Kenya, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and CABI, is PxD's flagship advisory service in Kenya. The free service is available in English and Swahili across all 47 counties of Kenya.

Growth and Increasing Sophistication

Launched as an SMS-based platform in July 2018, MoA-INFO provides agricultural recommendations and decision-support tools free of charge to over 550,000 farmer users via SMS and Telegram.

Benjamin Makai (Safaricom), Emmanuel Barkidjian (PxD Africa Regional Director) and Prof. Hamadi Boga (Principal Secretary of Agricultural Research – MoALFC) at the launch of MoA-INFO, July 2018.

The service has grown in scope and reach since it commenced operations with 20,000 farmers in 2018. The initial impetus for the service was to provide information to farmers to enable them to make informed decisions to combat Fall Armyworm (FAW), an invasive pest that has decimated maize crops across sub-Saharan Africa. The service has expanded to include recommendations for optimizing the cultivation of 11 crops: maize, beans, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, green gram (mung bean), onions, cabbage, sorghum, bananas, tomatoes, and pigeon peas. At the start of each season, users are invited to opt-in to receive advisory information on two crops.

Recommendations are customized based on the user’s location, collected at the ward level, and are offered in either English or Swahili. All platform messages are based on recommendations jointly developed with, and approved by, technical experts at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives (MoALFC, including KALRO, the Kenya Agricultural, and Livestock Research Organization).

More Informed Decision-Making with Decision Support Tools

The service also provides farmers with Decision Support Tools (DSTs) to help farmers make evidence-based decisions. The service currently hosts three decision support tools to optimize decision-making regarding FAW management, seed selection, and fertilizer choice and use.

The service is entirely free to farmers and can be accessed from any type of phone. Farmer users can both pull content – when they are looking for information about crop production or pest control – and receive push messages containing information about farming practices timed to coincide with cropping schedules and critical decision-points in different parts of the country.

Farmers register on the service by texting the word ‘FARM’ or ‘SHAMBA’ to 40130, to receive messages in English or Swahili, respectively. Users can change the language of the service at any time by texting the instruction ‘ENGLISH’ or ‘SWAHILI’. Farmers can access information by texting ‘MENU’ (‘ORODHA’ in Swahili), and can access the FAW monitoring tool by texting the word ‘CHECK’ (‘ANGALIA’ in Swahili).