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1 million SMSs for Tanzanian maize farmers

21 March 2017 UPTAKE: By the end of April 2017, the UPTAKE team expects that 1 million SMSs will have be sent out to maize farmers in the Southern Highlands.

Stephanie Gakuo the UPTAKE project manager, explains: “We have been delivering SMS messages to farmers at scale for some time. In January 2017 we sent 276,414 SMSs to about 41,000 maize farmers. The information shared covered good agricultural practices in maize growing. This campaign is now drawing to a close adding significantly to these numbers”

The farmers are located in the Mbeya, Songwe, Rukwa, Njombe, Ruvuma and Iringa regions of the Southern Highlands of Tanzania.

23% of these farmers are below 30 years of age and 26% were female.

Alongside dissemination of innovative technologies, the messages also sought to address emerging environmental issues such as:

  • Mitigating the effects of low rainfall through promoting drought tolerant seed varieties
  • Encouraging farmers to check their fields for a possible outbreak of stem borer attributed to the lessened rainfall by researchers from Agricultural Research Institute-Uyole
  • Timing of fertilizer application to rainfall to minimize wastage

Stephanie Gakuo continued: “The initial indication from our partners at the Agricultural Research Institute-Uyole and the seed companies, is that the SMS campaign is an effective means of reaching thousands of farmers and delivering timely and vital information to them. Input providers are also reporting increased sales of improved varieties of maize seed and pesticides following relevant messages.”