A team of university students from Kenya has developed a software program that can help farmers monitor weather and soil conditions in their areas
Known as the Mkulima Calculator (M-Calc), the software recently won the students a US$7,000 prize in a US State Department software competition.
The M-Calc uses a mobile phone platform to send information on weather patterns, soil types and other information to farmers, helping them to make informed decisions on what and when to plant.
Using information from reliable databases such as the United Nations and farm-oriented government agencies, the M-Calc acts as a resource base on farming methods and other information necessary to help farmers improve their yields.
In order to benefit from the service, farmers need to register their geographical locations online, before activating the service on their mobile phones before they can receive updates and requests.
The program’s artificial intelligence capabilities can help farmer estimate their yields per hectare by sending their rainfall figures, soil type and the size of the farm to a special number.
“Apart from benefiting the individual farmer, M-Calc is also expected to aid in environmental conservation since it nurtures informed and sustained farming methods”, said Abdalah Salumu, a 23-year old Business Information Technology student at Strathmore University, Nairobi.
Salumu, along with Elisha Bwatuti, Harris Dindi and Andrew Abuoga, make up the team of students behind the software.
Predicting weather patterns has been a major concern for African farmers in the face of climate change, which has brought huge losses to farmers though crop failures.