Owning a cow or other livestock is not an easy thing. Of course, if your family has owned cows for generations, skills are passed down. But, for those that have only few cows, or are finding it difficult to maintain the herd, it is important to have information at hand, quickly. There are often many difficult situations, from adverse weather conditions, to disease, that effect a herd, and if the heard is struggling, the family could be struggling also.

Of course with large urbanisation in #Africa, there are fewer opportunities to keep cows, unless for example you partake in #CowFunding, and in that case, someone else does the looking after for you! For those that have cows, maintaining the health of the heard is incredibly important. Optimum nutrition, medicine and health care is often the fine line between the life and the death of a cow. And one cow may mean the world to a family. Providing milk, or calves to sell or meat to eat, losing a cow, or having an unhealthy cow could have a massive impact on the well being of a family.

In this brave new world of technology and with mobile phones and internet access quickly spreading throughout Africa, it is now possible for anyone to get access to information.  If people want specific information, sometimes Google (or other search engines) are just not efficient enough. In recent years we have seen a trend towards tailoring information for specific types of people. There are apps which give students access to books. and e-learning opportunities, and apps that enable people all over the world to advise on best farming practices. And now, there is a service which enables farmers to look after their livestock to the best of their abilities.

iCow helps cattle farmers, as well as other types of farmers, improve their productivity by sending them relevant text messages packed full with important information and instructions. By having access to relevant information, farmers can reduce risk. And it is not just for cow farming, there is a plethora of information such as on soil fertility, poultry, eggs and crops, which is helping many improve their farms.

Receiving knowledge in this manor does not only help the individual who receives it. This knowledge will spread throughout communities, and improve farming skills in general in areas using iCow, as well as other apps which educate. During a time where there is more and more concern about the impact of climate change, apps like this enable better food security in Africa. This is important not only to protect against effect of climate change, but to give Africa the chance to stop relying on food imports from outside of the continent.

iCow are yet another innovation to appear out of Kenya in recent years. The Kenyan environment is fostering incredible technology and innovation, which is benefitting the country, Africa and the rest of the world in some circumstances. They are also motivating people, like Peter Gichuki, by rewarding and awarding them for excellence. Peter was the first to receive a reward, and was sent to receive specialist training on a dairy farm.

The work of iCow, and other services offering specific support and information to people across Africa are vital for the development of the continent. Many can not afford the cost of furthering their education or taking training courses in their respective fields, but online possibilities are opening up a world of skills for anyone across the continent.

Article by African Innovation, @inventiveAfrica.