During the month of April 2020, data collected by the iCow customer Care team from thousands of small holder farmers began to expose a growing deterioration in animal husbandry and welfare across Kenya and the opportunity and need to design a new scalable solution for animal husbandry services in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This led to a consortium of animals scientist experts (CASE4Farmers) convening a virtual meeting to discuss the modalities for Animal Husbandry Services in Kenya, during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The objectives of the meeting were amongst others to discuss the problems smallholder livestock farmers and their animals were facing due to the national restrictions imposed due to the COVID -19 pandemic, and the possibility of scaling the Dr. iCow service as a solution.
Dr iCow was started in 2018 by Green Dreams TECH Ltd as a service on the iCow platform designed to using mobile technology to scale animal husbandry outreach for farmers on the iCow platform. Dr. Zachary Kimotho joined Team iCow on March 1st 2018 and was equipped to access the farmer SMS feedback loop on the iCow platform and respond to farmers animal husbandry needs as Dr. iCow.
Over 2 years, Dr. Zach has assisted 882 farmers (70:30 ratio men:women) across all 47 Counties in Kenya. In addition, his conversations have been recorded and transcribed into SMS and made accessible to tens of thousands of farmers on the iCow platforms as audio tracks and as SMS messages. (*285#-Dr. iCow, https://bit.ly/icow2, https://bit.ly/icowlite)
iCow Mifugo Extension (iCow Livestock Xtension) is the result of these deliberations.
A Toll Free line was set up and 15 designated phones kindly donated by Safaricom PLC were dispatched to volunteer animal husbandry experts across Kenya. (Team X4Farmers)
The X4Farmer team uploaded the Ushahidi app and X4Farmers instance onto their phones where they enter the data of all incoming calls. Ushahidi kindly donated a lifetime free use of the Ushahidi platform for iCow Mifugo Xtension.
Team iCow then conducted thorough online trainings, technical setup and customer care assistance with the X4Farmers team.
iCow farmers were then sensitised about the iCow Mifugo Xtension service using SMS across the iCow platform.
The iCow Mifugo Xtension Service is an initiative supported and driven by CASE4Farmers and deployed by Green Dreams TECH Ltd. (GDT)
The objective of Mifugo Xtension is to crowd source and rapidly analyzes relevant farmer information, and share results with various parties, in near real-time basis for action.
GDT and partner, ILRI-led African Dairy Genetic Gain Project have developed agile and robust digital platforms and tools that enable scalable interactions with farmers. Scaling the iCow Mifugo Xtension concept is one solution rapidly being deployed and interfaced with ADGG. In future these may be used to interface with other platforms such as AU-IBAR’s AARIS.
Dr Desmond Tutu talks about COVID response to animal health and welfare iCow Mifugo Xtension Service