This research is funded by UK Aid from the UK government through the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Research and Learning in Africa programme (SAIRLA).

About Ushauri

Ushauri is an IVR hotline that gives farmers access to short audio messages about agricultural topics. Farmers can listen to pre-recorded advice, and can also send follow-up questions. Agricultural advisors listen to these farmer recordings at an online platform, and send answers as voice messages via automated calls.

Type of solution

Radio, IVR, Web portal. Friendly ICT tool that can be used by anyone. 

Targets

Farmers, extensionists, researchers.

Value addition

Value addition for farmers:

  • 24/7 access to high quality farming advice
  • Advisory messages integrate different, complementary perspectives
  • Possibility to ask questions immediately. For example, on the field, as the problem occurs.

Value addition for extension agents:

  • Better work scheduling due to asynchronous communication: Farmers’ questions can be answered in bulk, instead of answering phone calls all day long. It’s like “doing your emails” in the morning.
  • Labor saving because an answer to a common question needs to be recorded only once. It can then be sent to any number of farmers who ask the same question again.
  • Analysis of farmers’ questions indicates “hot topics”, priority areas for extension and possibly research

What does Ushauri do ?

Farmers call the automated hotline, and navigate throught an interactive voice response (IVR) menu choosing and listening to short audio messages about agricultural practices, recorded by extension agents, researchers, and experienced farmers. Farmers can also leave questions and comments, which are recorded and stored. The audio recordings can be accessed through an online dashboard at Ushauri.info.

Agricultural advisors have access to Ushauri.info, where it is possible to listen to the questions and comments made by farmers. It is also possible to record answers to the questions and send them directly to the farmers’ phone. When questions made by different farmers are similar, the same answer can be sent. Additionally, tags can be added to the questions and comments, which helps to identify information needs.

Business model ?

Possible future business models:

  • Integration of advertisement (like in radio)
  • Addition of audios with buyer offers or telephone numbers of buyers (who pay for being included)

Some stats

  • 6 months pilot implementation in Makueni county, Kenya
  • 260 farmers registered
  • 49 (19%) of registered farmers called at least once. 78% of the callers were women
  • 5.1 calls were made by individual users on average
  • 1.8 calls per day overall
  • Many calls were just few seconds. Median call duration: 29 second, but average duration: 79 seconds. 30% of calls lasted over 60 seconds
  • 52% of calls navigated the IVR until reaching a function (listen audio / record a question)
  • 81 audios listened
  • 20 questions submitted by farmers and answered by extension agent

Success story

Ushauri has provided advice about how to grow kitchen gardens. Farmers have reported very positve experiences about how the advice has helped them to set their kitchen garden and how the kitchen garden has improved their life quality: “I have developed skills on vegatable production that I didn´t know before. Through the Ushauri number I have learnt how to plant new vegetables and take care of them” “My family has been consuming more often fresh vegetables since we have the kitchen garden. Also, the money that I was using before to purchase vegetables I am using it now to start poultry in my farm”