Can mobile apps help pig farmers to be more proactive and productive?
Smartphone apps allow farmers to monitor and manage animal production from relatively anywhere they want, resulting in improved production efficiencies and animal welfare.
by Glenneis Kriel, The Pig Site
9 January 2020
One of the biggest factors differentiating a good producer from a great producer is the ability to do the right thing at the right time. Apps are a great aid with this by allowing farmers to access information that improve decision making through the mere push of a button on their smartphones.
What’s more, data can be accessed and inputted from anywhere, with many new apps allowing farmers to upload information offline to be stored in the cloud once the device has internet access.
The most attractive features of apps as an interface for Xavier Vélez, marketing manager of Degree2Act, is their non-invasiveness and ability to make it easy to visualise and assess issues. Besides this, most of them also provide statistics and other metrics in a comprehensive format.
The function of apps has changed dramatically over the past decade. Apps were initially quite simple, primarily aimed at relaying information.
Media platforms began using apps to provide continuous access to pig herd management features and videos. Animal health companies saw apps as a way to improve awareness of diseases by listing clinical signs and management protocols. The Show Pig app from Zoetis, for example, provides users with a useful herd management tool designed to help pork producers with recommended breeding and vaccination protocols, dates and reminders.
Other companies saw apps as a way to alert farmers of potential dangers, such as climatic, disease and even market risks.
These apps are currently playing a major role in revolutionising agricultural production in developing countries. Increased access to the internet and smart phones have rendered farmers less dependent on word-of-mouth advice in Africa and provided producers with access to more scientific and market-related platforms to govern production decisions.
The number of unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa has increased by 20 million to 456 million between 2017 and 2018, with around 239 million people – or about 23 percent of the population – using the internet on a regular basis, according to the GSMA report The Mobile Economy. Sub-Saharan Africa 2019.
According to a Geo Poll Survey conducted in September 2018 amongst 972 Kenyan farmers, mobile applications helped to reduce the information deficit in the Kenyan agricultural industry by keeping farmers abreast of weather patterns, food and livestock tips, modern farming methods amidst fluctuating food prices and access to credit that is customised to their needs.
Twenty-nine percent of the participants said they used their mobile phones to gather information either by relying on social media platforms, such as Facebook or mobile apps, including Whatsapp.
Word-of-mouth, nevertheless, is still the predominant medium of communication with 49 percent of the farmers using this as their main source of information, followed by radio, which accounted for 29 percent of the way in which farming advice is gathered.
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