Partnership unveiled to fight fall armyworm

Millions of smallholder farmers are set to get free expert help on how to tackle the devastating Fall Armyworm (FAW) pest.

Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD), a non-profit organisation has partnered with Safaricom, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International to provide the service through mobile SMS text messaging.

The new information service called “MoA-Info” aims to share information about these control measures as well as other important advice that all maize farmers can use to manage the pest.

“PAD’s mission is to provide highquality, customised, and actionable agricultural information and advise to smallholder farmers via their mobile phones to increase agricultural productivity, farmer incomes and environmental sustainability,” said Emmanuel Bakirdjian, PAD Kenya Country director.

MoA-Info is currently available to all Safaricom customers for free and will soon be rolled out to other networks. All a farmer needs to do is to send an SMS message with the word “SHAMBA” (for messages in Kiswahili) or “FARM” (for messages in English) to 40130.

Sending and receiving SMS messages is free. Bakirdjian said PAD and Safaricom are rolling out a nationwide FAW awareness campaign.

“Safaricom will send SMS to 10 million customers inviting them to join the platform. This will increase the knowledge base on FAW which ultimately will help reduce losses in maize,” he said.

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