Local ICT company Rubiem Technologies has introduced murimi-umlimi, a mobile app that seeks to impart valuable farming advice and information to farmers who are not always available on their farms.
Rubiem Technologies CEO Dennis Magaya says the app, which can be downloaded onto the farmer's phone from Google Play free of charge, will assist the farmer with daily information on prices, budgets, profits and costs for crops, livestock, fertilisers, and weather, as well as provide the farmer with step-by-step information on the production of a variety of crops or livestock.
"They can also get consultancy and training services on demand and in the case of emergency due to diseases and pests, the farmer will be provided with support by an expert. The app allows farmers to buy and sell farm produce to peers by simply taking a picture and posting or sending an enquiry to the platform," explains Magaya.
The app is available for farmers in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Namibia.
Magaya adds that for farmers without Internet-capable phones, the service is available on an interactive voice recording, where the farmer's phone will ring every morning and by simply listening, the farming guidance is received. Alternatively, the farmer can dial a country-specific number and follow instructions to access information.
According to the Statistics South Africa Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the last quarter of 2016, employment in the agriculture sector went up by 38 000 and private household agriculture employment by 17 000, aiding the sustainability of the country's economy.
In February, the former treasury minister announced in the 2017 budget speech, that nearly R30 billion had been allocated by 2019/20 to support economic growth in agriculture, rural development and land reform programmes, the largest portion allocated over the medium-term expenditure framework period, highlighting that the industry needs to play a crucial role in the growth of the country's gross domestic product.
"We believe this app is what the region needs to bring innovation into farming and it will go a long way to making the success of command agriculture more sustainable," concludes Magaya.