The role of farming mobile applications in community development
Mobile phones have become the fastest way of collecting and transmitting information. A lot of resources have been invested for the development and deployment of mobile applications. In the agricultural sector many farming mobile applications have been developed for use by farmers in Kenya and many farmers have adopted the use of these farming applications such as; Kilimo Salama, M-Farm etc. The success of these applications has largely been measured in terms of subscriptions to the services offered and also the success stories from the farmers. However, this doesn‟t tell the whole story of what impact or the lack of it thereof in community development. The purpose of this study was thus to evaluate the impacts of these farming mobile applications on community development. The specific objectives were: to understand the factors that promote adoption and use of farming mobile applications, to understand barriers to increased adoption and use of farming mobile applications and evaluate the appropriateness of farming mobile applications on social, economic and cultural development of the community. This study was based on two theories; Viji, Srinivasan theory from ideology to technology and reflective practice model theory. The information was collected from the farmers using the Mfarm and Kilimo Salama applications by use of structured interview schedules. Purposive sampling, simple random sampling and snowball sampling methods were used to select the respondents. The study established the factors promoting the adoption and use of farming mobile applications and also the barriers to more adoption and use. The study established that the use of farming mobile applications had a positive social, economic and cultural impact in the community bringing about development. The study recommends that the farming mobile applications should be made affordable, customer care services improved, stakeholders to collectively educate the farmers on existence of farming mobile applications and their role in community development and train farmers on how to use mobile technology in agriculture. More research should be carried out on how different partners in agriculture can collectively promote the use of technology in agriculture, development of a universal application and investigate how the ministry of agriculture can subsidize insurance premiums on farm inputs and expected harvests.