Botswana: app innovation to bolster agriculture


A mobile application designed for farmers to share news, announcements, prices, subsidies, events and weather forecasts, has recorded an impressive uptake, in its first month after launch.

The application, m-Agri, developed by local software firm Branstorne Group, has technical support from mobile operator Orange Botswana and is said to have registered over 10,000 users.

“The application is an all in one platform in that it offers a variety of possibilities all aimed at leveraging on mobile technology to facilitate knowledge and techniques for the farmers to improve their output, as well as connect with the buyers of their produce,” said Boga Chilinde-Masebu, spokesperson for Orange Botswana.

Orange Botswana offers connectivity to the application by providing a short code dedicated to the service. In addition, a technical connection between m-Agri and Orange technical platform allows the system to send bulk SMS messages to clients.

The m-Agri application is accessible through the short code and is the brainchild of entrepreneur Martin Setimela under his start-up company Branstorne Group.

Setimela said the system was primarily developed to offer affordable connectivity for all local farmers, by creating a comprehensive mobile ecosystem for the agricultural community, through which farmers can enjoy the convenience of easily marketing their products, learning farming tips from Ministry of Agriculture, and accessing financial services through the use of basic mobile phones.

“It is a trading platform that also comes with news and announcements sections on prices, subsidies, events and weather forecasts,” Setimela said. A simple phone is able to use several different “apps,” for farmers to acquire information and trade their products though this mobile application,” he added.

Meanwhile, minister of infrastructure, science and technology, Nonofo Molefhi, said more cyber security measures should be put in place to increase uptake of technology supported applications.

He said if systems are not perceived to be secure, there would be no meaningful uptake of online services such as internet banking, online shopping and others. “As such, persistent cyber threats remain a challenge for both the government and the nation as a whole. Cyber security therefore needs collective capacity building strategies.”

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