Blog Empowering Kenyan Farmers: Unveiling the impact of targeted agro-weather advisory

Author: Regina Wamaitha, Martin Aketch, Joseline Kiogora

In the heart of Kenya's agricultural landscape, where the rhythm of life is dictated by the changing seasons and the whims of nature, lies a story of resilience and empowerment. It's a tale woven by a visionary project, the Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA), aimed at fortifying farmers against the relentless onslaught of climate change. AICCRA empowers Kenyan farmers with Climate Information Services (CIS) and Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices for a climate-resilient agricultural landscape.

At the forefront of this narrative stands iShamba, a beacon of hope. iShamba is committed to boosting farmers' productivity and income through the provision of accurate and timely farming information. With over 500 registered farmers spread across all 47 counties of Kenya, its mission centers on empowering farmers with valuable knowledge to improve their agricultural practices and enhance their livelihoods.

iShamba provides personalized agricultural tips tailored to a farmer’s specific crop or livestock calendar and their region, offering precise weather forecasts within a 9km radius of their location and access to seasonal county forecasts. Additionally, iShamba keeps farmers up to date on farming events including dates, locations, hosts, and entry charges. Despite facing challenges along the way, iShamba approaches each obstacle with innovation and determination.

AICCRA envisions a more climate-resilient agricultural landscape in Kenya, aimed at strengthening farmers' resilience and livelihoods in the face of climate change. At AICCRA, we recognize that timely access to weather and agriculture information is pivotal in adapting to climate change impacts by facilitating proactive preparedness and strategic planning. iShamba, aligning with this vision, collaborates closely with AICCRA to provide accurate and timely agro-weather information tailored to the unique needs of small-scale farmers. This enables farmers to reduce losses and optimize gains, ensuring their investments hold the highest value even during extreme weather events, whether detrimental or favorable. Our partnership model involves collaborating closely with relevant partners to understand farmers' requirements and locations, empowering them to enhance productivity and view farming as a sustainable business venture. To deliver climate information services and promote climate-smart agriculture practices, iShamba leverages a broad stakeholder network and a robust mobile platform, expanding the reach of agricultural information services, ensuring inclusivity and relevance for women, men, and youth from diverse backgrounds.

Dr. Boaz Waswa illustrates to the farmers how to receive agro-advisory information on their phones. Photo credit @The Alliance/Esther Nzuki 

Thanks to our continued collaboration and unwavering commitment, our efforts have yielded significant results. A recent milestone is the successful launch of weather information and agro-advisory services, notably through the widely embraced TV program Shamba Shape-Up and customized initiatives in dryland counties. This accomplishment represents a significant stride toward our mission of empowering rural communities with easily accessible and actionable weather data. Key achievements include integrating weather segments into Shamba Shape-Up, reaching an estimated eight million viewers, and providing personalized agro-advisories to over five hundred farmers per county in dryland areas such as Tharaka Nithi, Laikipia, Siaya, Makueni, and Taita Taveta. With localized forecasts and targeted agro-advisories, farmers are now equipped to make informed decisions and mitigate risks, regardless of whether they face adverse weather conditions or favorable growing seasons.

However, our journey does not end here. We continue striving to refine our climate information services, deliver tailored agro-advisory, and strengthen institutional capacities within cooperatives and farmer groups. Our goal is to ensure that farmers have access to climate information that enables them to make informed decisions and adopt CSA technologies, thereby enhancing their resilience and livelihoods in the face of ever-changing climates. Our commitment to inclusivity is reflected in our outreach efforts, with 40% of participants being women, 30% men, and 30% youth, in the training and access to agricultural inputs, ensuring that all members of the agricultural community have access to valuable resources and information.

Looking into the future, iShamba aims to strengthen farmer collaboration through WhatsApp groups, fostering connections among new members, and provide premium CSA and CIS services. In this symphony of achievements and challenges, iShamba stands tall, playing a pivotal role in empowering Kenyan farmers and building a more resilient agricultural sector. The journey continues, with each milestone bringing iShamba closer to becoming the paramount information hub for African farmers, nurturing resilience within the agricultural landscape amidst the impacts of climate change. Our shared vision is to offer a comprehensive, all-in-one solution, equipping farmers with the essential resources and knowledge required for their prosperity.