An SMS “kickstart” for Kenyan farmers

In this, the fifteenth in our series of FrontlineSMS guest posts, Rita Kiloo – Customer Care Executive at KickStart in Kenya – describes how their use of the software enables them to extend and improve their outreach efforts among rural farmers in the country

“KickStart’s mission is to help millions of people out of poverty. We do this by promoting sustainable economic growth and employment creation in Kenya and other countries, and by developing and promoting technologies that can be used by dynamic entrepreneurs to establish and run profitable small scale enterprises.

In 1998 we developed a line of manually operated MoneyMaker Irrigation Pumps that allow farmers to easily pull water from a river, pond or shallow well (as deep as 25 feet), pressurize it through a hose pipe (even up a hill) and irrigate up to two acres of land. Our pumps are easy to transport and install and retail between $35 and $95. They are easy to operate and, because they are pressurized, they allow farmers to direct water where it is needed. It is a very efficient use of water, and unlike flood irrigation, does not lead to the build up of salts in the soil.

Photo courtesy KickStart, Kenya

With irrigation, farmers can grow crops year-round. They can grow higher value crops like fruits and vegetables, get higher yields (the Food and Agriculture Organization reports that irrigation increases crop yield by 100-400%) and most importantly, they can produce crops in the dry seasons when food supplies dwindle and the market prices are high. Because of the long dry seasons and growing population, there is potential for many thousands of farmers to start irrigating without flooding the market. There are local, urban and even export markets for the new crops.

A few months ago we decided to start using text messaging as part of our outreach efforts to farmers, and had heard good things about FrontlineSMS. Basically, we now receive lists of mobile numbers of prospective clients from our sales teams – these are clients who have visited our dealer shops countrywide, and who have shown an interest in our irrigation pumps. They usually leave their contact details with the sales people at the shop.

At the end of every month I receive a copy of the contact lists from at least 70 sales people, which may total about 5,000 contacts. I randomly pick around 500 to 1,000 mobile numbers and put these into an Excel spreadsheet. Once this is done, the numbers are uploaded into FrontlineSMS and we send out a uniform SMS to prospective buyers of the pumps. Here is a sample of the kinds of messages we send out:

Kumbuka kununua pampu ya kunyunyiza mimea ya MoneyMaker. Kwa maelezo zaidi, piga simu kwa 0725-xxxxxx

(“Remember to buy the MoneyMaker pump for irrigating your crops. For more details, kindly call 0725-xxxxxx”)

The texts are scheduled for every week of the month, and are categorized into territories, allowing us to keep track of the areas where the interest is coming from. There are a number of advantages in using FrontlineSMS, one of the main ones being that I am able to reach more farmers through SMS than I would be able to by calling them one-by-one. We are also able to keep in more regular contact with interested farmers, and remind them about the pumps. Not all of them buy pumps straight away”.

Rita Kiloo
Customer Care Executive
KickStart Kenya Program
www.kickstart.org

41 thoughts on “An SMS “kickstart” for Kenyan farmers

  1. Pingback: changefeed
  2. Pingback: @mikegechter's RSS
  3. Pingback: lucky
  4. Pingback: Ken Banks
  5. Pingback: Jeremiah Fellows
  6. Pingback: iPayStation
  7. Pingback: Maria Springer
  8. Pingback: Kim Scriven
  9. Pingback: AfricaGathering
  10. Pingback: billzimmerman
  11. Pingback: topsy top5k
  12. Pingback: topsy top5k en
  13. Pingback: AfricAid
  14. Pingback: daniel patricio
  15. Pingback: The 1010 Project
  16. Pingback: the1010project
  17. Pingback: William Cabrera
  18. Pingback: txterz
  19. Pingback: txterz1
  20. Pingback: paconmiller
  21. Pingback: Wiebe de Boer
  22. Pingback: wdboer
  23. Pingback: Hapee
  24. Pingback: Hapee de Groot
  25. Mario Augusto Solís Burgos says:

    Is there anything we can do to help from here? We are in Madrid, Spain….we really want to learn how to structure an activity or NGO like this, and give you guys a hand. Let me know….cheers

  26. Pingback: e-Agriculture
  27. Pingback: e agriculture
  28. Pingback: FJ_Martin
  29. Pingback: fj martin
  30. Pingback: Houria
  31. kisinga katoni says:

    am a farmer in mwala district and i would like to know your location where i can buy this pump.
    it is amazing.

  32. kiwanja says:

    @kisinga – You’ll need to contact Kickstart to get information on the pumps. Try their website – you should be able to make contact through there. Best of luck!

  33. Pingback: andylees
  34. Pingback: KickStart | iuMAP
  35. Pingback: <b>KickStart</b>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>