How youth-innovated mobile platform is revolutionizing Kenya’s food production, security

Embracing technology and infusing it in agriculture is key to raising Kenya's and Africa's food production. It also ensures that farmers do not suffer losses after their garden efforts.

M-shamba staff during an inhouse training. The platform connects farmers to experts and potential buyers for their farm products. PHOTO/ M-Shamba Soko Shwari.
M-shamba staff during an inhouse training. The platform connects farmers to experts and potential buyers for their farm products. PHOTO/ M-Shamba Soko Shwari.

With nearly everything in the modern world revolving around technology and its advancements, different innovations continue to emerge as innovators and scientists seek to provide solutions to different challenges across health, agriculture, transport, and many other sectors.

A lingering problem

Calvins Okello, an engineer by profession, was raised in an area with great agricultural potential. 

But poor farming methods, minimal harvests, and high prices of farm commodities disturbed him all along, finally prompting him to find a solution.

Born and bred in the Western Region of Kenya, Okello says as much as the region has large tracts of arable land, lack of access to farming information and poor farming practices often led to limited and low-quality food production in the region.

“It is disturbing to see people struggling with food and nutrition insecurity, yet they have land that can solve this major problem,” says Okello, in an interview with The Scholar Media Africa.

Getting a solution

Together with his colleague Gordon Owiti, the two Kenyatta University science graduates developed a mo­bile phone-en­abled tech­no­logy platform that helps farm­ers in rural areas access real-time farming information on their mobile phones.

Okello says, “The digital platform links farmers with crop re­search­ers, met­eor­o­lo­gical experts and veter­in­ary sci­ent­ists through a Cloud Based Virtual Call Centre for real time and personalized support.”

Dubbed M-Shamba Soko Shwari, the platform is di­git­izing Africa’s ag­ri­cul­ture, intending to solve the crisis of poor food production and dis­tri­bu­tion, according to Okello. 

Through the mobile technology platform, farmers can get information about the latest farming tech­no­logy in­nov­a­tions from the Kenya Ag­ri­cul­tural Re­search In­sti­tute (KARI) and weather up­dates from the Kenya Met­eor­o­lo­gical De­part­ment to in­crease pre­dict­ab­il­ity of farm­ing.


“Through this technology we also enable farmers to access potential markets and bar­gain for the highest price for their pro­duce by pla­cing their products without going through middlemen,” explains Okello.

An M-shamba staff guides a businessperson through the registration process on the platform. The innovation has already helped thousands increase their farm produce and sales. PHOTO/ M-Shamba Soko Shwari.
An M-shamba staff guides a businessperson through the registration process on the platform. The innovation has already helped thousands increase their farm produce and sales. PHOTO/ M-Shamba Soko Shwari.

The M-Shamba platform supports digital learning on agronomy, climate-smart interventions, and food safety to farmers through the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) service and interactive SMS. 

Through the platform, farmers can easily get information on agronomy, regenerative agriculture, and food safety through the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) service, USSD, and interactive SMS. 

Owiti explains that the platform uses data to match demand from the market with supply from farms, thus creating a ready market.

Okello notes that M-shamba is one of Africa’s pioneering Agritech social enterprises. 

The two tech lovers birthed the concept in 2010, but it was launched ten years later, in 2020. 

“Through M-Shamba we have developed and deploy innovative solutions for smallholder farmers hence solving their farming queries in an efficient manner,” Okello said.

The tech­no­logy seeks to di­git­ize Africa’s ag­ri­cul­ture, and en­able gov­ern­ment agen­cies solve the crisis of poor food dis­tri­bu­tion.

“This is a unique new tech­no­logy that gives in­form­a­tion to farmers. This in­form­a­tion is stored in a chip in the phone memory and en­ables the farmer to re­ceive in­form­a­tion on the vari­ous as­pects of farm­ing,” Okello explains.

“It helps farm­ers sell online, notifying the mar­ket about farm produce. Farmers can con­nect with buy­ers,” Okello said.

The in­form­a­tion channeled to farmers is dir­ectly ob­tained from cer­ti­fied re­search and experts.

Mshamba provides diverse information and updates ranging from crop and livestock farming, pests and disease management, veterinary advice, harvesting and post-harvesting advice, and product pricing.

“It is a one-stop shop where a farmer can get critical information and advise from the comfort of his farm at the cost of a single, short mobile message,” Owiti explains.

According to the two developers, the technology has served 68,546 farmers and 90 farmer societies so far and has seen a total of 400,040 acres of land put under active cultivation and enhanced food production. 

Farmers attend a field training organized by M-Shamba. PHOTO/ M-Shamba Soko Shwari.
Farmers attend field training organized by M-Shamba. PHOTO/ M-Shamba Soko Shwari.

Additionally, the digital space has enabled smallholder farmers to trade farm produce worth Ksh 12 million through the platform, according to the developers’ statistics. 

“The M-Shamba platform has facilitated an increase in farmer productivity by 35%,” says Okello.


Andrew Mwiti, 47, a maize farmer in Kuria, Migori county, who has been using the platform since 2015, says information sourced through M-Shamba has helped him increase his production from 15 bags to 26 bags per acre.

“The good thing about this platform is that it links me to experts in real-time; this helps in solving most of my farming challenges,” says Mwiti.

Mwiti notes that with increased maize production on his farm, his economic fortunes have also changed.

“It is encouraging because the platform also links you to potential markets, which makes it possible and easy to sell the surplus,” he appreciates.

Okello observes that farmers using the platform have increased their income by nearly 60%.

“M-Shamba is increasing the farmer productivity by 35% with smallholder farmers income increasing by 60%. Those using the platform are reducing post-harvest losses by 80% while increasing vendor profitability by 20%,” Okello narrates.

The innovation has bagged several awards and recognitions, including the ICT Innovation award.

Owiti says the new tech­no­logy also seeks to seduce youth into farming. 

“You cannot separate technology from modern farming. The only way to get young people into agriculture is by making it attractive to them and one way of doing so is by using technology,” Owiti explained.

28-year-old Grace Wamaitha, a vegetable farmer in Githunguri, Kiambu county, says the M-shamba platform made her farming venture both profitable and enjoyable.

“It makes farming easier because I have all the information I need at the press of a button. Sourcing for markets has been easy, and farming costs have been reduced due to the availability of information and expert advice,” said Wamaitha. 


The M-shamba innovators are currently working to have content on the platform translated into Kiswahili to enhance its accessibility to farmers.

A maize farmer using the M-shamba platform. PHOTO/ M-Shamba Soko Shwari.
A maize farmer using the M-shamba platform. PHOTO/ M-Shamba Soko Shwari.

Through M-Shamba, Okello and his team are focusing on creating at least 14,840 jobs by 2025.

“It is our believe that with the right farming information available to young people, we can get them out of the capture of joblessness and drive them into agribusiness,” Okello said.

Jackson Koimburi, a climate change and food security expert, explains that technology is one key avenue to helping Kenya and Africa solve the perennial problem of food insecurity.

According to Koimburi, technological advancements are a blessing to agriculture if fully utilized.

“A farmer doesn’t have to wait for an expert to visit him on his farm for expert advice. 

This information can be accessed through apps like M-shamba, which cuts on the cost of production in many ways,” observes Koimburi.

He adds that when the farmer is empowered with the right information at the right time, it means he will produce not only quantity but also quality; this is a sure way to food security.

The agricultural sector contributes approximately 33 percent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs more than 40 percent of Kenya’s total population and 70 percent of the rural population. 

According to the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), 14.5 million Kenyans face food insecurity and poor nutrition each year, with some 2.6 million Kenyans staring at extreme cases of a food crisis annually.

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The duo is working on partnering with county governments to have the digital platform scaled across the country, especially in rural agricultural counties.

“With the farmer database from counties, it will be easy for us to increase the number of this platform’s beneficiaries from what it has to offer and by that we will not only make farming productive but also make rural communities’ food sufficient,” Owiti concludes.

For further engagement with the developers, you can contact them via, phone, +254 735135435 or at their offices located at Sifa towers, 5th Floor Lenana Road, Nairobi, Kenya.

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Jackson Okata is a freelance journalist with experience in both broadcast, print and online journalism. His areas of interest are Climate Change, Environment, Agribusiness, Technology, and Gender Empowerment. His contact:


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