Tanzania to get mobile apps for soil testing

Tanzania to get mobile apps for soil testing

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Background

Tanzania’s economy is hugely dependent on their agricultural industry, not only does it account for 32.4% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) but it also employs over 50% of the working population and makes up 85% of the country’s exports. For Tanzania’s poorer people who live in the country’s rural areas, agriculture is vital, with over 80% of them employed within the farming sector.

Whilst maize, cassava and sweet potatoes are the largest food crops, sugar is the largest cash crop following by cotton, cashew nuts, tobacco and coffee.

With agriculture being so important to the country’s GDP, the quality of the country’s soil is obviously intrinsically linked to the success of the agricultural sector, and in turn the success of the country economy as a whole.

Both the quality and the type of soil can differ dramatically across the country, there are in fact over six different types of soil in Tanzania, these are predominantly volcanic soils, sandy soils, granite/gneiss soil, red soils, ironstone and vertisol.

Challenges

A severe lack of any type of agricultural technology, as well as recent droughts and floods have left Tanzania’s farmers facing some serious challenges. The recent announcement by the Kenyan based company Capture solutions has therefore been greeted with significant optimism.

Capture Solutions

Capture Solutions is a company based in Kenya that is focused on resolving technological challenges faced by businesses across Africa. With the current growth in the mobile communication industry Capture Solutions has created a number of applications, specifically designed for mobile phones, that are explicitly intended to help farmers to increase their productivity levels, these include soil fertility tests. The test works by connecting a mobile phone to a soil testing kit which is then in turn connected to a card, which can store, receive and send relevant information.

This application, as well as others designed to help better manage farm resources, are already being used in Kenya, in fact Capture Solutions have confirmed that there are currently approximately 200,000 subscribers in Kenya.

Lawrenzo Boncompagni, the company’s managing director said, “Wherever a farmer is located, he/she can get information on soil fertility using mobile phone applications. The technology is already practiced in Kenya and we hope to bring it to Dar es Salaam in September this year,”.

Martin Mgallah from the Agricultural Markets Development Trust (AMDT) believes that due to the huge number of people now using mobile phones, this type of technology will help boost the agricultural industry in Tanzania following its planned launch in Dar es Salaam in September 2016.

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