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Kenyan farmers to benefit from digital farm extension services

Livestock farmers in Kenya can now access essential extension services from their mobile phones following the unveiling of the the ‘Last Mile’ app. The “LastMile” initiative is an integrated, solutions-driven program seeking to address crucial animal health challenges by making animal medical resources available in hard-to-reach areas. The initiative targets ruminants, such as sheep, goats along with cattle, and poultry.

Established by Boehringer Ingelheim, with support from the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) and funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “LastMile” aims to bridge current gaps in access, availability, and awareness of animal healthcare solutions for smallholder farmers in Africa.

The program’s mission is to create long-lasting partnerships with the local farming community in an effort to establish and drive sustainable businesses that are integrated into the wider national economy. It was initially launched in Kenya, and other key markets throughout Africa including Cameroon, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia, with a plan to expand in Tanzania.

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With the new recently launched mobile app, field force and teams working on the “LastMile” are now able to manage their day-to-day activities and work more effectively with farmers, retailers and veterinarians. The objective for rolling out the use of the app is to monitor the activities accurately, collect data, measure the impact and reach of the initiative, as well as to improve the understanding and knowledge about the smallholder farmer sector for better-informed decision-making in the future. In addition, the app has proven critical in the current times of social distancing and heightened safety measures for regular and easy interactions with all our stakeholders.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the project funder, and GALVmed, will also benefit from this app, as more accurate KPI data related to the project will be available.

Some of the main features include a calendar section, farm and retail visit sections, training part covering diseases and product information and also surveys to gather specific information about the target market.

The app has been unveiled at a time when the world is facing a global health crisis posed by the spread of Covid-19 that has forced governments to restrict movement and minimise human interactions to prevent the spread for the virus. Farmers will now be able to liaise with field officers remotely and get the necessary assistance via the last mile app.

Emilie Veillat, Key Account Manager and “LastMile” application lead, The Veterinary Public Health Center at Boehringer Ingelheim shared: “The ‘LastMile’ initiative is an important part of the company’s vision and aims to support our communities as well as improve both human and animal health. I am pleased we have launched this mobile app which is not only critical for accurate data collection and monitoring, but it also helps teams stay connected, particularly in these challenging times of the pandemic.”

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