Project Idea• Agri-Alert is a mobile application and website which aims to help solve the first Millennium Development Goal – to end poverty and hunger, by helping farmers to improve their livestock health.• Farmers will be able to send an SMS alert to the website if they notice an outbreak of disease amongst their livestock.• The alert will be visible on a map on the website.
Problem Definition• The primary aim of Agri-Alert is to address the first Millennium Development Goal to “Eradicate Poverty and Hunger” and in particular target 1.C: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.• 10 million people die each year from hunger.• There was an increase in food prices in 2008 which means more people are now hungry than before 2008.• As a result progress on the first millennium goal is actually going backwards. This means that it is particularly important to try and address this goal.
Problem Definition• Agriculture provides 70 percent of employment and 30 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product.• International Livestock Research Institute estimates 250 million people in Africa - a quarter of the population - rely on livestock for their livelihoods, yet African governments invest almost nothing to support the sector
Our Solution• Agri-Alert is a mobile application and website which allows farmers to send an SMS alert if there is an outbreak of disease amongst their livestock.• A text will be sent to the farmer and they will be asked to answer a few short questions to help determine the disease that the animals are suffering from.• The farmer will then be offered practical advice on how best to handle the situation and any actions they could take to help the animals.• The alert will appear as a coloured dot on a map on the website in the location the alert was sent from.
Our Solution• The alert on the map will be available for other farmers to see.• Farmers who have registered with Agri-Alert who are based near to where the diseased livestock are will be sent a notification, making them aware that their livestock may be at risk.• The farmer will be advised as to what symptoms they should look out for and this in turn may result in the disease being caught in time to be treated.• Veterinary and Animal Health organisations such as the “Community Animal Health Network” (CAHNET) will also be notified.
Our Solution• These organisations will be able to use the mapped alerts to see the main areas of outbreak and monitor where their resources are needed most.• This may help the livestock industry to be better able to contain and control disease.• Veterinary and Animal Health organisations will also have the option to use the mapping system to keep track of what supplies have been distributed and also of the stocks of vaccines and medications they have.
Our Solution• Agri-Alert will operate using SMS incident mapping. Incident mapping uses SMS to report a given incidence, in the case of Agri-Alert it will be livestock disease and map the data geographically.• Other websites have successfully implemented SMS incidence mapping to document things such as reports of violence and election results, however, no other website has implemented it to track livestock disease.• Applications similar to this have been set up to deal with human diseases such as malaria but none to deal with livestock disease.
Our Solution• Other applications offer advice to farmers on how to improve their farms but no other application gives farmers the opportunity to report directly to veterinary organisations when their animals are sick.• No other mobile application will notify neighbouring farmers when there has been an outbreak in their area.• Studies have shown that helping Africa’s smallholder farmers grow more food is a proven pathway out of hunger and poverty.
Similar Applications• Ushahidi is a non-profit software company that develops free and open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping.• They set up a website which used SMS reporting to report incidences of violence in Kenya. It has since been expanded and was used to report in the aftermath of the earthquakes in Haiti, Christchurch and Chile.• Reports can also be sent in from Twitter and by e-mail.
User Experience• Agri-Alert website and mobile application will be clear and easy to use.• It will be aimed at rural farmers who will probably not be very computer literate and so the application will have to be very simple to use.• Try and make use of pictures and symbols instead of text as often as possible as many users will have poor reading and writing skills.
Business Viability• Studies show that gross domestic product (GDP) growth from agriculture is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as non-agricultural GDP growth.• Other applications such as SMS for Life and Ushahidi have been very successful.• Although penetration of mobile phones in Sub-Saharan Africa is only 57%, people share their phones, enlarging the access to them. Most rural communities in Africa have at least one mobile phone at their disposal.
Business Viability• The Borlaug Institute at Texas A&M University carried out an assessment of Animal Health Organisations in Sub- Saharan Africa, they noted that “It will be necessary to engage smallholder farmers as more willing participants in livestock disease reporting and control programs” in order to help develop the agricultural sector in Africa.• The goal of the assessment is to provide guidance to USAID as it plans its strategy for up-coming investments in animal health and the livestock sector in Africa.• Since one of their recommendations was to engage farmers in report and control of disease they may have an interest in Agri-Alert.
Business Viability• In 1994 the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) adopted a resolution to rid the world of Rinderpest, a deadly livestock disease.• This goal has been achieved.• One of the first steps that was undertaken in an attempt to eradicate the disease was to determine the geographical distribution of Rinderpest. This would suggest that Agri- Alert would be a very useful tool in the control and possibly eradication of other livestock diseases.
References• Bulkley, K. (2010). Mobile Technology takes centre stage in disaster relief. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/activate/mobile- technology -disaster-relief News• FAO (2011). Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP). Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/programmes/en/gre p/home.html• Ford, L. (2011). Farm-Africa to launch 150 branded veterinary stores across Kenya. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/global- development/2011/jan/21/farm-africa-animal-healthcare- franchise
References• Loudon, M. (2010). Mapping SMS incident Report: A Review of Ushahidi and Managing News. Retrieved from http://www.mobileactive.org/howtos/mapping- sms-incident-reports-review-ushahidi-and-managing-news• Global Development Program (2010). Agricultural development in Africa. Retrieved from http://www.gatesfoundation.org/agriculturaldevelopment /Documents/facts-about-agricultural-development.pdf• Manager, K. (2011). Mobile Phone access varies widely in Sub-Saharan Africa: South Africa leads. Retrieved from http://www.talkafrique.com/issues/mobile-phone-access- varies-widely-in-sub-saharan-africa-south-africa-leads
References• Oxfam (2010). Millennium Development Goal One. Retrieved from http://www.oxfam.org.uk/applications/blogs/cymru/201 0/09/millennium_development_goals_1.html