Gonzaga Kawuma, Uganda
When Gonzaga Kawuma’s cow collapsed and could not stand up, he was away from his farm. His wife called him on his smartphone with the disheartening news. Without seeing the cow in person ... without conducting expensive tests ... and without being an expert in agriculture, Gonzaga was able to conclude that the cow needed more calcium.
Why was this cow having trouble standing up? Gonzaga relied on his smartphone to diagnose its illness. The cow’s fall could have been caused by a number of ailments – muscle fatigue, arthritis, foot rot – but a shortage of calcium in a cow that produces milk? How could Gonzaga ever come up with such a diagnosis?
As part of Grameen Foundation’s Community Knowledge Worker (CKW) program in Uganda, Gonzaga has access to a wealth of farming knowledge through mobile phone technology. Using the smartphone and databases available to him as a CKW, he helps other poor farmers every day find solutions to their problems, providing them with information about weather, crop and animal diseases, market prices, and the like. In this case, as a poor farmer himself, he was his own client. He took out his smartphone, typed in the symptoms of his dairy cow and pored through information.
The verdict? “Milk fever,” which often occurs after cows give birth and experience a sudden shortage of blood calcium. When the demand for calcium to produce milk exceeds the cow’s ability to do so, they become unsteady and eventually cannot stand at all. Gonzaga’s cow had given birth just three days ago.
Gonzaga called a vet, who prescribed a calcium injection. Today, his cow is healthy and currently produces between 18 and 20 liters (roughly 5 gallons) of milk per day. Gonzaga was able to save his cow – and his livelihood – thanks to the information he found using his smartphone.