Researchers develop M-Pig app to curb inadequate extension officers

mpig1Pig researchers in Uganda are developing mobile based pig information platform that is aimed at empowering pig farmers and addressing the country’s problem of inadequate extension officers.

The initiative dubbed M-pig will help farmers seek for guidance and receive information on pig farming through their mobile platforms. The service which is being developed by researchers will thrive on the increased mobile phone penetration in the country which currently stands at

Pig farming in Uganda is gaining prominence with farmers recently adopting it as a lucrative enterprise thanks to a growing demand for pork in a country that leads in pork consumption in Sub Saharan Africa with statistics from FAO and ILRI indicating a 3.43kg per capita consumption.

As the consumption and soars, more farmers are encouraged into the practice, however, these farmers efforts are curtailed by the absence of adequate extension officers to offer expert knowledge on the challenges that emerge in the cause of the animal rearing ventures.

This is what has prompted scientists from International Livestock Research Institute ILRI together with partners from GIZ develop the mobile based information platform that will offer a bridge to the extension gaps. The M-Pig tool is being developed with the help of veterinary doctors without borders. “They are planning to introduce an app for the M-pig platform that will be readily available for low end phone that can be afforded by even the less privileged farmer,” explained Danilo Pezo head ILRI in Uganda.

The tool will help farmers communicate with the experts and share their experiences. The experts on the other side will develop a data base that will have almost all the frequent topics that farmers encounter while practicing piggery. “This will enable farmers to get first hand solutions by the click of a button on their phone rather than waiting for a veterinary officer who may take ages to arrive resulting in many incurring losses,” added Pezo.

ILRI identified market being one of the stumbling blocks especially to rural smallholder farmers and therefore the M-Pig will also help solve this jinx to farmers. Pezo explained that the project will also link farmers, traders, butchers and consumers to the information platform, thereby greatly enhancing the probability of success and ultimate development impact.

Once the app and the platform are ready, farmers will access it freely. For farmers with smart phones, they access the app and acquire information through logging online. However, for farmers with basic feature phones, they will be required to send inquiries to a given code and then receive the response almost immediately.

The Platform’s prototypes are under trials and the researchers hope to first launch in the market towards the end of 2015. Once successfully tested in Uganda, Pezo noted that similar platforms will be extended to Kenya and Tanzania.

Uganda’s pig production has increased over the last