Understanding the effects of mobile-based information services on farmer output and loan repayment in Kenya

Clients: Acumen, Esoko, and Juhudi Kilimo
Locations: Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia, Kenya
Sectors: Agriculture, Access to finance
Dates of service: May 2015 – February 2016
Completion status: Completed
IDinsight service: Impact evaluation
IDinsight contacts: Patricia Pina

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IDinsight Associate Gerishom Gimaiyo and Esther Matua during a pilot survey in Machakos County.

Background

Many smallholder farmers get limited returns for their work, often because of limited knowledge of best farming practices (i.e. identifying and responding to crop diseases) or market prices (i.e. in many cases, rural farmers aren’t aware of price differences between markets and buyers).

Many interventions to expand farmer access to knowledge use costly in-person trainings or one-size-fits-all mass media campaigns. Mobile technology, on the other hand, is less costly and can still offer targeted, tailored information to farmers.

Intervention

Esoko, an innovative social business, sends mobile messages to farmers in several African countries with information (on weather, market pricing, agronomic tips, and more) that could improve farmer outputs and income. A past study of Esoko’s services in Ghana has already shown promising results.

In Kenya, Esoko joined efforts with Acumen and Juhudi Kilimo, a Kenyan microfinance institution, to provide Juhudi’s customers with farming tips, market price information, and access to a call center with the goal of improving farmer output and loan repayment.

IDinsight’s service

To assess the impact of Esoko’s service, IDinsight designed and conducted a randomized controlled trial from May 2015 through February 2016.

The results of this study encouraged Juhudi Kilimo and Esoko to continue conducting additional research to further understand and disaggregate the effects of providing mobile-based informational services to smallholder farmers.