mardi 3 décembre 2013

How can ICT improve livestock sector in Africa: Case studies from Ethiopia and Kenya

ILRI's livestock solution won the Kenyan ICT innovation awards
Cattle farmer in Kenya
Information and Communication technology (ICT) can simply be defines as the techniques and tools use to access information and to communicate with other. The need for the commitment of rural commodities has been widely recognized in East part of Africa. We observed that in this part of Africa, livestock sector contribute up to 30% of Gross national Production (GNP). That is why since the last decade, livestock sector became a big users of ICT tools. Cases studies of the impact of ICTs application in livestock sector from countries like Ethiopia and Kenya will help our understanding.

      1. Linking livestock product with market

In agriculture innovative systems, ends innovation beneficiary are considered as user. Most time when we talk about ICT for agriculture, we paid more attention on plants. While livestock has values add in agriculture value chain. How ICT really link Cow, cattle, goats, poultry to market consumers?
Livestock Market Information System (LMIS) is an application which helps all stakeholders involve in livestock sector send and request data. This application has  a data base information concerning, market product, market price, most higher production areas are mapping and all stakeholder could get information.  Do you know that Ethiopia has Africa’s largest livestock population? Pastoralist communities are highly dependent on income from livestock to pay for food, health services, and school fees.  That is why since 2005 with USAID grants, the Global Livestock Collaborative Research create a National Livestock Market Information System (NLMIS) in order to helps Ethiopian pastoralists make better decisions on when to sell their livestock and earn increased income during times of economic hardship. 

Farmer’s projects are now mainly based on updated information’s according to market supply chain. You do not think that, for example a Cow which known that the price at market is very high will eat well to gain more kilograms such a way that it can be the best seller in market at that moment? This means that, based on various opportunities and market information, livestock farmers want their animal best sold as possible. That is why the project called Improving Productivity and Market Success of Smallholders in Ethiopia (IMPS) has focusing it strategy on high-value livestock and irrigated crop commodities. These help 54000 farmers dealing with apiculture is involved and is assisting in increasing their skills and knowledge. 

2    2. Digital animal diseases

One of the major problems faced by livestock sector in East Africa is animal diseases. According to ILRI, animal’s disease causes billions of losses every year around the world and something must be done to stop it. For face this challenge, iCow propose a mobile phone application as one of the solution. Because, these losses are mainly due to lack of information at the right moment.  In fact, iCow is an Agricultural Information Service with a variety of products available as a subscription service through *285# to help farmers enhance productivity. 
 For example, if you observe an unusual Symptom on your animal, you can quickly find a veterinary via your mobile phone.  In Kenya, iCow help more than million of farmers on prevention and cure of milk related diseases via mobile phone. If you want to know anything about disease, just register at *285# and follow the menu. This application is free, simple, and can be used with all mobile. It is also accessible via internet. We see that animal diseases will no longer being a problems when there are many ICT application allowing farmer to get immediate solution via their mobile. 
 

3     3. Is ICT replace livestock specialist ?

     If we considered that farmer can directly access information via a web data based or mobile phone application, we can prematurely said that ICT can replace livestock extension officer. Why should I pay again a veterinary to follow my cow if I can get information via my mobile? If I am farmer I will think so.
But we must also know those traditional extension models are still valid in ICT context. It is not possible to have developed application at all level like demonstration. Because demonstration improve the level of trust and must be done by livestock specialist. In spite the fact that farmer can view for example a vaccination process via their phone or website, they cannot always applies it as a veterinary. 

Meanwhile, it is advice that, all livestock specialist deals with ICT as main strategy for their activities. That is why IMPS in Ethiopia sponsored more than 92 livestock specialist to accomplish their Master and Bachelor in ICT and livestock (LIVES).  So information and training of livestock specialist in ICT for development is essential. 

To learn more about ICT and Livestock, read the followings documents:
-         -  http://www.ilri.org
-         -  www.eap.gov.et
     
      Image: by ILRI