Methodologies for Empowering Small-Scale Farmers with a Chatbot

2 January 2023

CAMRI’s Winston Mano and Professor Lusike Mukhongo (Western Michigan University) participated in two online events where they jointly presented the methodological rationale for their Mozilla funded project, “Wezesha na Kabambe: Swahili Voice Chatbot for Empowering Smallholder Farmers in Kenya”.  They discussed how the project relies on user-focused interviews, demonstration, and observation. Knowledge and lived experience of women in rural Kenya who mostly use kabambe phones (because they are cheap, durable and have a longer battery life) are key evidence for the proof of concept. Other members of the team are Professor Edwin Ataro from the Technical University of Kenya and Professor Masibo Lumala from Moi University. The project is funded by Mozilla Common Voice Grant.

The first event was titled “Harnessing Our Potential: Interdisciplinary Research in the Creative and Cultural Industries Symposium” and was held at the University of Derby on Sept 20, 2022 (online), with Žaneta Musilová  as Conference Coordinator. Mano and Mukhongo presented in Panel G which focused on Technology, Innovation & Creative Industries. It was Chaired by Cath Feely.  The second event was the ECREA pre-conference workshop, held on the 14th October. It focused on “Methodological Challenges of Doing Audience Research in (post) Covid Times”. It was opened by Professor Alessandro Nani, the Chair of Audience and Reception Studies Section and moderated by Co- Vice-Chairs of Audience and Reception Studies, Professors Vivi Theodoropoulou and Jelena Kleut.

Mano and Mukhongo indicated as a major challenge the problem of how to openly deal with the respondents ethically from sourcing to sharing insights with the community. They received useful feedback from both events. The project addresses a gap in the design and use of Agritech apps by local communities in the African context.


Photo by Desola Lanre-Ologun on Unsplash

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