Kenya-based Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) has spun off a social enterprise company known as Sokopepe Limited [www.sokopepe.co.ke]. Driven principally by the very rapid penetration of mobile phones in Kenya (82%), one of the services the company offers enables huge numbers of small-scale farmers to keep comprehensive digitised records of their farming enterprises.
The Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS) service is based on a revenue-sharing approach where those involved in farmers’ assistance, enumeration and digitisation of data, known as Production Information Agents (PIAs), take a fraction of the money that farmers pay to enrol for the service as a commission. The monetary incentive for PIAs ensures sustained recruitment of farmers and creates an additional channel of income for rural-based young people.
Sokopepe Limited also offers a second service known as Soko+. This is a knowledge management service through which farmers send SMSs to obtain real-time agricultural commodities prices and to get tips on good agronomic and livestock keeping practices. Sokopepe Limited aims to enrol at least two million farmers by 2018.