Updated on May 24, 2024


Created on June 24, 2016


iCow is a mobile phone based agricultural information platform for small holder farmers. It was developed to solve the problem of permanent access to verified valuable agricultural content. It is designed

Developed By
  1. iCow
Tested By
  • Indigo Trust
  • United States Agency International Developement (USAID)
Content Partners


Product Description

iCow enables livestock farmers in Kenya to get the best practices in cow and chicken rearing and to accurately track their cows’ gestation period via mobile phone. Farmers register their cows and their insemination date by SMS short code, and then receive periodic SMS prompts timed with vital days during the gestation period. The service also sends weekly SMS messages to subscribers with information and tips on breeding, diet, nutrition, health, illness and disease, milk production efficiency, and other best dairy practices.

– The several services in iCow are:
— Kalenda-Cow Calendar: a cow gestation calendar, which sends a farmer timely important messages about his cow upon registering it.
— iMashauri: weekly prompts that give farmers important tips on farming best practices.
– – Vetenari: a tool to find the nearest Vet or Artificial Inseminator.

Target SDGs

SDG 2: Zero Hunger

SDG 1: No Poverty

Target Users (Target Impact Group)

Household, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Distributors / Implementing Organizations

iCow is a product developed by Green Dreams and distributed in a partnership with Safaricom, Kenya’s largest mobile telecom provider.

Competitive Landscape

Direct competitors include VetAfrica, M-Farm, and Esoko.

Manufacturing/Building Method


Intellectural Property Type

Select Type

User Provision Model

Active mobile service of voice and SMS. For subscription dial *285# and follow the simple menu of the USSD service.

Distributions to Date Status

iCow has a database of 600,000 farmers and over 60,000 active iCow users in all 47 counties in Kenya.

Mobile service required

SMS, Voice

Devices required

Feature phone

Additional features required


Permanent network connectivity required


Two way communication (Y/N)


Level of coverage needed

None mobile data coverage needed.

Usage rate (%)


Literacy support


List of languages available

English and Kiswahili

Operating system and version


Power Requirements


mAgriculture Application

Education on farming practices, Weather information, Localization information

Design Specifications

iCow will track each cow individually and allow the farmers to maintain all relevant information specific to each cow. It will give the farmer access to: - - A comprehensive Gestation Calendar customized to each heifer and cow based on the Date of Service - - A calf calendar to ensure calves are reared following best practices and are thus able to reach optimum genetic potential - - A customizable Immunization Calendar - - Health Information Services - - Diet Information Services - - Nutrition Information Services - - Illness and Disease Information Services - - Calf Records iCow will be accessed by farmers all through their mobile phones or the internet. To Register on iCow Simply Dial *285# and follow menu.

Product Schematics

Technical Support

iCow has set up a customer care center that registered users can call to provide feedback and receive live advice in several languages.

Replacement Components



Versioning cycle unknown.

Manufacturer Specified Performance Parameters

- iCow impact study (2012) - - 82% of farmers who joined seven months earlier are still on the platform; - - All claimed they have benefitted from being on iCow; - - 42% farmers report increased incomes; - - 56% of those with increased incomes are due to increased milk yield ranging from 1.5 to 3 litres per lactating animal; - - Other benefits include: Reduced spending on commercial feed due to knowledge on homemade production; Increased markets and incomes for livestock and livestock by products; Increased customers reported by AI providers; Reduction of animal illness and mortality due to efficient access to relevant experts; Storage of feed in preparation for drought and dry conditions; Planting of forage thus planning before purchasing a dairy cow; Healthier livestock, including calves.

Vetted Performance Status




Complementary Technical Systems


Academic Research and References

“ICow – ICow Kenya Home.” n.d. Icow.Co.Ke. Accessed May 29, 2024. https://icow.co.ke/.

User, Super. n.d. “Safaricom?: Premier Mobile, Data, & M-PESA Services.” Safaricom.Co.Ke. Accessed May 29, 2024. https://www.safaricom.co.ke/ 

“Goal 2.” n.d. Sdgs.Un.Org. Accessed May 28, 2024. https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal2.

Talbot, David. 2012. “African Social Networks Thrive in a Mobile Culture.” MIT Technology Review, April 19, 2012. https://www.technologyreview.com/2012/04/19/186668/african-social-networks-thrive-in-a-mobile-culture/

“ICow.” n.d. Icow.Co.Ke. Accessed May 29, 2024. https://icow.co.ke/?option=com_content&view=article&id=20&Itemid=15 

Cow, I. n.d. “ICT and AG Profile.” Weebly.Com. Accessed May 29, 2024. https://measict.weebly.com/uploads/3/2/4/3/3243215/icow-aginfo-mobilephone-kenya.pdf 

“ICow.” n.d. Icow.Co.Ke. Accessed May 29, 2024. https://icow.co.ke/?option=com_k2&view=item&id=15:icow-impact-study-results&Itemid=13

“USAID’s Rajiv Shah Reviews ICow Mobile Application Helping Kenyan Farmers.” n.d. Dai.Com. Accessed May 29, 2024. https://www.dai.com/news/usaid-rajiv-shah-reviews-icow-mobile-application-helping-kenyan-farmers

Compliance with regulations


Evaluation methods

Field trials and customers’ reviews. Case studies of iCow are available on their blog.

Other Information

iCow won Apps4Africa in 2011, the Vision 2030 Award for agriculture in 2013 and runner up for the Africa Innovation Prize in 2013. Expert advisors have expressed concerns regarding iCow model, which could not be sustainable in the long term. An eventual evolution/update project could be too hard and long.

Comments from the Community


  1. E4C.COMMENTS says:

    wilfredo.torres says:

    I seems to be a very powerful tool. The only issue to an effective deployment could be the Internet access in rural areas, but, since my understanding and researching, this issue is disappearing in the last years. So, I consider feasible this kind of tools to help the farmers in undeserved communities to be more competitive and productive. From its design, I could guess is possible to expand the app to features like specific-farm environmental monitoring (sensing/weather stations), intelligent irrigation/control systems, and so on.

  2. E4C.COMMENTS says:

    wilfredo.torres says:

    Great, powerful and flexible (can use SMS and “offline features”). Could be needed to check easy of deployment and maintenance. Take into account additional performance parameters I suggest below:
    – Training Need / Easy to use / Friendly using index
    – Potencial Evolution
    – Data/Call consumption rate
    – Power consumption rate
    – Infrastructure/equipment requirement
    – Easy to deployment

  3. E4C.COMMENTS says:

    wilfredo.torres says:

    Even when is important the “cow management”, I think nowadays the apps must be updatable and have the possibility to expand easily the features and functionality. It seems that this tool was designed for a context where the Internet access and the affordability to smartphone was/is an issue, but this is changing nowadays, and we have to be ready for that, and help our farmers to be even more competitive. This limitation to work only in Kenya dialing a USSD code/menu is a great feature, but I think is possible to offer more nowadays, and support bigger areas/regions and comply more regulations in a globalized world.

  4. Nordica MacCarty says:

    Where does mass production occur?

  5. Iana Aranda says:

    Update Market Suggested Retail Price to ….

  6. Noel Wilson says:

    Vetted performance statement seems a little tangential. Could it state actual independent vetted performance pending or carried out?

  7. Noel Wilson says:

    Could safety state ergonomic unknowns?

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