Wireless Wednesday

Wireless Wednesday – How can mobile technology encourage information sharing within agricultural value chains.

Wireless Wednesday

January 24, 2014

Agriculture is critical to global stability and development. It accounts for a third of the gross domestic products and three-quarters of employment in sub-Saharan Africa. (World Bank 2008). But most farmers still remain poor and out of touch with best practices that can yield to high production, prevention of post harvest losses and market information.  According to a report by GSMA, Mobile penetration across the region was 54% in 2012 and mobile contributes over six per cent of the region’s GDP. Mobile technology has the tools and the capability of reaching farmers, providing them with the needed information and potentially link them up with the markets, locally and internationally. But do farmers know this?Or is it that technology is too far from them? What is missing? Information sharing along the agricultural value chain has been broken for a while now. Can technology be used to improve or encourage information sharing and communication within the agricultural value chain?

Attendees at a previous mobile for Agriculture event

Attendees at a previous mobile for Agriculture event Attendees at a previous mobile for Agriculture event

Join other discussants and stakeholders in the agricultural value chain as they discuss this on Wednesday, 30th July 2014, at the m: lab premises in one of their frequent meetup dubbed Wireless Wednesday. The event themed “How can mobile technology encourage information sharing within agricultural value chains.” The event will attract mobile application developers, farmers, government representatives, NGOs, exporters, Investors, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector. The event is sponsored by USAID. Details Date: 30th July 2014 Venue: m:lab East Africa Balcony Time: 12.00 – 2.00 pm Key discussants and invitees include:
  • Grace Agili – ‎Director, Agricultural Information Resource centre at Agricultural Information Resource Centre
  • Phineas M’Ndaka, Extension Officer, Ministry Of Agriculture – Ngoliba
  • Milton Lore, Chief of Party, Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine at Land O Lakes
  • Pauline Wairimu Githinji, Impact Data Officer, Root Capital
  • Farmers from Kisii, Kisumu, Ngoliba, Magadi, Lugari, Thika,
  • Other invitees include representatives from Safaricom, Orange, Airtel, Technoserve, Amiran,GSMA, Kilimo Salama, Exporters among others

To participate in the event, RSVP HERE. There will be a live twitter stream during the event, you can virtually join the discussion using the hashtag #WirelessWednesday. wireless-Wednesday-500x317 Seven Wireless Wednesday meetups on agriculture have been held since 2012. Recap articles on the meetups can be found below as follows :- 30th October 2013: Understanding the challenges of uptake and increase the awareness of mAgric innovations 27th February 2013: Improving the quality and uptake of Agricultural mobile innovations 29th August 2012: Mobile Apps Targeting post harvest challenges in Agriculture 27th June 2012 : Reviewing Mobile Applications Targeting Agricultural Productivity 25th April 2012: Using mobile tech to overcome post harvest challenges in horticulture 29th Feb 2012: Nine considerations for implementing apps for Agriculture 29th Feb 2012:Using technology to enhance productivity in agricultural value chains

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Can mHealth solutions improve health service delivery in Kenya?

Wireless Wednesday

January 24, 2014

The application of mobile technologies, ‘Mobile Health’ (mHealth), in the healthcare industry is increasingly seen as a way to provide high quality and easily accessible  healthcare services at lower costs hence improving the health outcomes . In regions where basic access to healthcare is a challenge, mHealth can provide remarkable opportunities.

Participants during the last Wireless Wednesday meetup on mHealth

Participants during the last Wireless Wednesday meetup on mHealth

According to GSMA’s report on Mobile Technology’s promise for Healthcare, mHealth can deliver a number of important advantages. These advantages fall into 3 main categories; [list type=”bullet”] [li]Better communication with patients – Mobile communications can greatly increase public awareness of health issues. Simple programs like SMS reminders for patients taking medication on a regular basis have shown dramatic improvements in compliance with treatment programmes.[/li] [li]Improved care and treatment; Mobile healthcare initiatives can provide for better overall care outcomes. In terms of overall disease management, remote monitoring can play a significant role in data collection and early warning systems, which are particularly critical for patients with chronic diseases such as heart conditions and diabetes [/li] [li]Broader benefits to society. Finally, not only will patients benefit from improved access to information, better care and treatment and improved communication, but mHealth will translate into broader benefits to society. These broader benefits could include; (i) improved life expectancy (ii) quicker diagnostics of potential epidemics and management of associated risk (iii) better insight into the causes of certain diseases, (iv) greater and quicker information sharing to identify appropriate treatments and (v) reduced absences from work. In summary we can create a smarter, healthier society. [/li] [/list]
Nick sharing his thoughts on the theme of the day during the previous Wireless Wednesday meetup on mHealth

Nick sharing his thoughts on the theme of the day during the previous Wireless Wednesday meetup on mHealth

m:lab East Africa will host one of its frequent meetup dubbed “Wireless Wednesday” on mHealth on 1st October 2014. The meetup is themed:  “Can mhealth solutions improve health service delivery in Kenya?.” The meetup is a two hour mobile for Health forum where mobile app developers meet industry practitioners to exchange views on the opportunities and challenges in the health sector and how the challenges could be addressed through mobile phone technology. Specifics of the event; Date: 1st October 2014 Venue: m:Lab East Africa’s offices (3rd Floor, Bishop Magua Center, Ngong Road) Time: 12:00 Noon – 2:00 pm
Participants networking after Wireless Wednesday Meetup on mHealth

Participants networking after Wireless Wednesday Meetup on mHealth

To participate in the event, RSVP HERE. There will be a live twitter stream during the event, you can join the discussion using the hashtag #WirelessWednesday.  Some observations made in past Wireless Wednesday meetups on the mHealth may be found in this blog article.

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Wireless Wednesday – Barriers to Adoption of Mobile Technology in Education

Wireless Wednesday

January 21, 2014

As technology has become more powerful and pervasive, it has provided educators with a valuable tool to support learning. Mobile technology, which has advanced considerably over the last decade, has enabled learning to be more accessible. This accessibility has provided educators with a way to support learning inside and outside the classroom. Mobile technology integrates a wide set of tools and applications that enable learning to be dynamic so that students are no longer tied to their desks to experience and interact with learning objects. However there are some barriers hindering the full adoption of mobile technology in learning.

Participants during the previous Wireless Wednesday on Education

Participants during the previous Wireless Wednesday on Education

m:lab East Africa will host one of its frequent meetup dubbed “Wireless Wednesday” on education on 29th October 2014. The two hour meetup will bring together stakeholders in the Education Sector to discuss and explore the barriers hindering adoption of mobile technology in learning. Details of the event Venue: m:lab East Africa Balcony Date: 29th October 2014 Time: 12 Noon – 2:00 pm Wireless Wednesday meetups are aimed at creating a forum for exchange of views and networking between mobile application developers and practitioners in various industry sectors. The series of meetups on Education in particular are aimed at giving the different stakeholders in the Education sector a platform to share their thoughts on how to grow the EdTech ecosystem.
Participants networking after Wireless Wednesday Meetup on Education

Participants networking after Wireless Wednesday Meetup on Education

To participate in the event, kindly RSVP HERE . There will be a live twitter stream during the event, you can join the discussion using the hashtag #WirelessWednesday.  Some observations made in the past Wireless Wednesday meetups on Education may be found in this blog article.

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The Role of mAgric Solutions in Improving Agricultural Productivity (Wireless Wednesday Recap)

Wireless Wednesday

January 21, 2014

Agriculture is the major contributor of the Kenyan economy. It is the leading economic sector, accounting for  approximately 51 percent of Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) both directly and indirectly. The sector also employs more than 75 percent of the workforce. Growth of the national economy is therefore highly correlated to growth and development in agriculture. Now that agriculture is a major contributor of the Kenyan economy, it’s important to understand some of the factors that cause agricultural productivity to decrease and how innovation can help increase agricultural productivity.

A participant sharing his views during Wireless Wednesday on Agriculture

Participants during Wireless Wednesday on Agriculture

Factors that cause agricultural productivity to decrease Weather:The changing and unpredictable rainy seasons in the country has greatly affected their ability of farmers to plan their farming activities. Unusual weather patterns, such as drought, a prolonged rainy season and other factors, can ruin crops and bring productivity down. Disease and pests: Pests and diseases have continued to cause a lot of losses to farmers. This is caused by lack of information by the farmers on how to control these diseases. Post-harvest losses are caused by poor handling and storage facilities. Poor soil quality: The continuous cultivation and reduction of fallow periods has led to rapid depletion of soil nutrients, declining yields and environmental degradation. Farmers need information on the right farming practices aimed at restoring the soil nutrient. Limited access to extension service: There is limited access to extension services in most parts of the country with the National extension staff: farmer ratio standing at 1:1,500. This situation has hindered most farmers from keeping pace with changing technological advances Poor seeds quality:  Poor seed quality can decrease productivity. Farmers with access to specialized seeds such as crop hybrids specifically developed to produce more can improve their productivity. The capacity of a given farm: This is another important factor. Soil cannot be forced to produce beyond capacity, although there are methods that can be used to improve production capacity, such as fertilizing to add nutrients to the soil so that it can support more crops Use of inputs– Most farmers lack information on the right type of farm inputs to use and the appropriate time of application of the same. The cost of key inputs such as seed, pesticides, fertilizer, drugs and vaccines is high for poor farmers. Most farmers therefore do not use them and this greatly reduces the yield that the farmers get. Lack of agribusiness mindset– Innovation is a key factor for agricultural productivity. Farmers who can develop creative ways to farm smarter, as it were, will experience productivity increases. If there are enough entrepreneurs to make agribusiness work, farming can actually work.
A participant sharing his views during Wireless Wednesday on Agriculture

A participant sharing his views during Wireless Wednesday on Agriculture

Importance of extension service in the sector The agricultural sector extension service plays a key role in; disseminating knowledge, technologies and agricultural information, and in linking farmers with other actors in the economy. The extension service is one of the critical change agents required in transforming  farming to modern and commercial agriculture to promote household food security, improve income and reduce poverty. However there is limited access to extension services in most parts of the country with the National extension staff: farmer ratio standing at 1:1,500. This situation has hindered most farmers from keeping pace with changing technological advances. There is therefore need for recruitment of more extension staff and the involvement of NGO’s in the grassroot to increase access of extension services to farmers. How innovation improves agricultural productivity Improving agricultural productivity is one of the most pressing issues in Kenya. Technological innovation, especially in mobile, is critical in  improving  productivity. Mobile technology can radically transform smallholder farmers’ access to critical and timely information. Critical and timely information is very important when it comes to agriculture. mAgric applications are being developed that allow farmers to call a helpline and get advice from an agriculture extension service provider or receive personalized daily agriculture alerts through SMS or voicemail. Farmers get up-to-date information on pests and diseases, seed and input varieties, fertilizer outlets, weather, market prices, and so on. Farmers are able to track inventories and crop activities and monitor and report on crop cycles and yields. Mobile technology has also enabled farmers to access mobile payment systems that provide them with the ability to exchange money easily In many African countries, agricultural extension agents are stretched to service up to 4,000 farmers each, which results in long delays between visits. Mobile phones technology provides a complementary way to reach farmers with timely and personalized information.

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Opportunities and Challenges of Adoption of mHealth Solutions

Wireless Wednesday

January 18, 2014

Mobile technologies are widely available and can play an important role in healthcare at the regional, community, and individual levels. mHealth opens up new avenues for doctors to make healthcare even more patient-centered, and to overcome difficulties posed by the location or timing of appointments. mHealth can improve patient care, treatment and safety for example through early disease diagnosis, improved patient compliance, and improved disease testing. m:lab East Africa hosted a meetup dubbed “Wireless Wednesday” on mHealth to discuss the opportunities and challenges for adoption of mHealth solutions in Kenya. Adoption of mobile health technologies may happen faster if and when healthcare organizations, telecom providers, app developers and other stakeholders in the health sector work together on legal and regulatory mandates and restrictions, system integration, and patient-centered research to bring costs down.

Participants during Wireless Wednesday meetup on mHealth

Participants during Wireless Wednesday meetup on mHealth

One of the factors accelerating adoption of mobile solutions in health is the rising healthcare cost. Mobile health solutions can reduce the cost of health care through remote monitoring of patients suffering from certain diseases, thus reducing the number of outpatient follow-up visits and also patients consulting on prevention hence fewer people have to visit a doctor or hospital. Other opportunities of adoption of mHealth solutions includes personalized healthcare. Many people are now practicing self-tracking, in which individuals measure and collect personal data to improve their health, monitor sleep, food intake, exercise, blood sugar and other physiological states and behaviors. In some cases, they are using the data to identify what triggers or worsens flare-ups of

chronic health disorders on their own, or with the help of an online community.

George Mwangi Sharing his thoughts during Wireless Wednesday Meetup on mHealth

George Mwangi Sharing his thoughts during Wireless Wednesday Meetup

Some of the challenges in the adoption of mobile technology in healthcare include confidentiality. Even as much as we are encouraging the use of mobile health, issues like confidentiality of patient information/data and diagnosis should be addressed. Patients will not be comfortable using any health application until they are assured of privacy and security protection. Mindset adjustment is another challenge where some patients and also physicians are used to the traditional healthcare system and it’s hard for them the embrace the new technologies in health. Also not all patients understand English and Kiswahili, in the rural areas the some of the patients and doctors communicate in their mother tongue. The patients should be empower with medical knowledge in everyday language.
Participants networking after Wireless Wednesday Meetup on mHealth

Participants networking after Wireless Wednesday Meetup

Lack of clear regulation and policies in the mHealth ecosystem is delaying the comprehensive and widespread of the use of technology in healthcare. There is the need for creation of policies and frameworks that encourage the development of innovative mHealth solutions and harmonize the regulation between the delivery of healthcare and mobile health services. mHealth brings more than new technologies. It facilitates a new way that enables health enterprises to engage patients, improve outcomes and lower costs. It’s clear that technology is giving the healthcare industry a much-needed upgrade, from medical translation tools to mobile apps that help patients live healthier lives.  

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