Sometime in 2019, Oscar Ngime, a dog breeder, lost eight German shepherd puppies to Canine parvovirus, a contagious disease.
If the puppies had survived, according to Oscar, they would have earned him over Sh250,000.
Ngime, who also breeds Havanese and Japanese Spitz in Rukubi village, Lower Kabete, Kiambu County, recalls of another incident where his pet parrot survived a severe injury and getting vet services became a challenge.
“For the puppies, I travelled about 20 kilometres looking for a vet, and when I finally found one, it was too late.”
Hit by the challenges, Ngime, 40, sought to find a solution to the challenge.
This saw him team up with an information and technology expert to come up with a mobile app that links farmers to veterinarians.
“It’s a one-stop shop application that connects farmers with vets and animal feed sellers and to the market,” he says.
“We called the app Bobbi, which is also the name of my seven-year-old parrot.”
Ngime reveals developing the app cost him some Sh350, 000.
The mobile app, that has also been integrated with a website, allows one to create an account, register and post adverts of the livestock.
So far, the app has over 1,000 members, says Ngime, who holds a Diploma in Business Management.
For an advertisement to be approved, Mr Ngime who is the administrator grills the legitimacy of requests made.
“We encourage sellers to accompany their adverts with photos, pricing, pin location and make clear if there is room for negotiation,” he explains.
Most of their subscribers are based in Kenya and Uganda, and some from Tanzania.
According to Ngime, veterinary practitioners register through the mobile app or website and advertise their services.
“Farmers then click to access their services any time they need,” he says, noting he is working with 20 vets in different parts of the country.
John Njau, a pig farmer in Kanyariri, Kabete, Kiambu County, says he says initially relied on middlemen for the market. “I saw Bobbi advertised on Facebook, I registered and within two days managed to sell four piglets,” he reveals, adding that his customers come from as far as Ngong, Kajiado County.
Currently, he has 20 pigs. “I no longer struggle looking for vets, they are at my reach through the app,” he explains.
Dr Jemimah Njuki, the Director for Africa International Food Policy Research (IFPRI), said for digital platforms to be effective, they should be readily available to farmers on multiple gadgets including feature phones, smartphones and computers.
“Most farmers are practising mixed systems, growing crops and keeping livestock. They should get services that cater for both.”
Ngime, a father of two, tells Seeds of Gold, that he pays Sh15,000 a year to the webhost provider and a similar amount to the technician for maintenance.
“Being a vet and services provider, the app is my office,” says James Mwangi, a private veterinarian.
Some of the challenges Ngime has encountered is that some few months ago, Google App Store brought it down claiming he had breached their policy. Nevertheless, he resolved the issue with them.