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m:lab By John Kieti / March 28, 2012

Wireless Wednesday Recap: 9 take away points for implementing mAgri Services

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On 29th February 2012, the m:Lab, hosted one of the frequent meetup dubbed Wireless Wednesday. Wireless Wednesdays are aimed at getting incubatees, members of the tech community, industry stakeholders and thought leaders to engage each other in a focus group discussion on a specified theme in the mobile space. The event provides mentorship opportunities for incubatees and extends the same to the tech community of developers and trainees.

The event sponsored by USAID, had a focus on agriculture. This event was themed on using Technology to enhance productivity in agricultural value chains. A blog that captured the full recap on the event was done.

The social media community was not left out in this event because there was a live twitter stream during the event which attracted the notice of a number of people using the hashtag #WirelessWednesday.  A recorded video footage of the event with some of the notable clips is now accessible on YouTube.

The set-up was such that the lead discussants started by talking about the different issues that are affecting the value chain and then the conversation were taken up by the developers and other industry players. This paved way for discussions on the problems and their solutions in the agriculture sector in terms of mobile space.

Just a recap on the Learning’s from the discussions here is brief summarized notes on that.

1. Prototyping and iterative improvement

Mobile application developers need to make prototyping a part of their daily routine as they work on various aspects of their apps. This means developers should also work on testing their apps with the actual consumer target audience before they launch their apps to the market. Ideally, developers should spend much time out in the field understanding problems in agricultural value chains so as to come up with more compelling and demand driven solutions.

2. Focus

Mobile developers may be better off focusing attention to address one main problem to avoid getting overwhelmed with the multiplicity of problems that farmers experience or duplication of what is already in the market.

3. Learn from other people

Farmers would like to learn from other farmers mistakes thus developers should think of a platform that can make this possible. An opportunity exists for mobile developers to help build a social network.

4. Information Authenticity

Information that is passed onto farmers needs to be authentic and verifiable.

5. Feedback mechanisms

A Feedback mechanism needs to be included in all the platforms that are developed to ensure that people learn.

6. The middleman

This seems to be a very hot topic which can be taken even further going forward there misconceptions exist among mobile developers, farmers and others in the innovation ecosystem.

7. Mobile devices and affordability

Farmers can afford smarter and with more features mobile phones. They can potentially buy more expensive phones and pay for related data costs if solutions in the phones are compelling enough and directly add value to their farming activities.

8. Diversity of Farmers

Developer need to understand that farmers are diverse in their scale of farming and income levels. Farmers range from those who make millions of shillings in a month from commercial farming to those who barely produce enough for subsistence.

9. Value addition processes

Mobile developers need to explore opportunities to enhance value addition processes for raw agricultural produce.

With those learning points the event came to a close with several remarks and discussions on the way forward in the agribusiness mobile sector.

In the spirit of networking the developers and the trainees stayed on after the session to brainstorm ideas with the farmers. This event was held as part of the developer outreach for Pivot East to help developers generate ideas for the mobile society category. This encourages and ensures that the developers make applications that are relevant to the society. Apps that tackle real time problems faced by the community and need solutions.

The next meetup sponsored by USAID is scheduled for end of April 2012.

This article is cross posted from the Pivot East Blog

Author : John Kieti

John Kieti is the Lead at m:lab East Africa. He is an exponent for mobile entrepreneurship and an experienced m4d professional. John is passionate about the growth of East Africa's knowledge economy. He holds an MBA and BSc in Computer Science. He also occasionally shares his thoughts about East Africa's knowledge economy on his blog - gmeltdown.com


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