Green Dreams History

2023 - Archaea Kenya Limited

Archaea Kenya Ltd was registered as the vehicle to catalyse the affordable delivery of soil microscopy services to smallholder farmers in Kenya through unique models.  These include inspiring and training young soil experts and developing systems, processes and ecosystems to ensure their businesses are sustainable and profitable.

2022 - Soil Microscopy Program

The Soil Microscopy course came as the next logical step due to student demand for onward learning and after our CEO qualified as a Soil Food Web Certified Lab Technician through the famous Dr. Elaine Ingham Soil Food Web School (SFW). This customised course is now offered collectively with the Soil Advocacy course which now ends with students seeing soil life through a high powered compound microscope. Students are encouraged to apply for the one year SFW course and those that qualify with distinction have the opportunity to further their education, through our hands on one week microscopy immersion experience as well as mentorship and support in setting up Smallholder Soil Microscopy Service businesses. In addition we built a customised Soil Lab Service interface where students working with microscopes in the field input their soil microbial analyses for their farmer clients. This triggers a resulting analyses directly into the farmers mobile phone in SMS fromat. The system response further educates farmers using the iCow platform on best soil microbial practices following regenerative agricultural practices of composting, mulching, low to zero tillage and keeping soils growing with living roots through overcropping.

2021 - Soil Advocacy Program

In response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we introduced a pioneering initiative centered on Soil Advocacy. This program was tailored for individuals equipped with smartphones and internet connectivity. Drawing inspiration from the acclaimed Kiss The Ground Soil advocacy program, we meticulously crafted a unique curriculum with a special focus on Boda Bodas (motorbike taxi riders). These individuals, often mobile and with increased availability due to lockdowns, proved to be an ideal target audience for our initiative.

Our program encouraged participants to engage in co-learning activities, partnering with a female family member. Together, they delved into soil testing exercises and compost making, sharing these valuable skills within their communities. The program spanned six months, featuring weekly one-hour Zoom sessions. Successful completion of the program was marked by the issuance of a certificate, and an award ceremony, complete with categories recognizing excellence in soil microbial diversity.

The success of this training initiative led to the expansion of the Soil Advocacy Program, now accessible to interested students in Kenya and beyond. It has been restructured as a concise, three-month course, enhancing its accessibility and impact within the region.

2017 - Onwards

Up until 2019 new innovative tools were being developed and added to the iCow suite of services and the platform was made available across different operating systems including Android, KaiOS and web. This required working with content partners to bring a richer content experience to farmers with access including video, image, text and audio.

The disruptions brought about by COVID showed livestock suffering and as a result GDT quickly developed a X4Farmers platform where farmers could access a free veterinary hotline. The platform was manned by 15 Government livestock extension experts and supported by partners International Livestock Research Institution (ILRI), and Safaricom PLC and operated for one year. 

Disruptions bought about in Tanzania and Ethiopia also led to the development of data capture tools collecting data directly from farmers over low end and Android phones. This required USSD, SMS and Android development and tools and enabled farmers provide data on Body Condition Scoring, Milk production, Calving dates, Maize planting dates, Composting and more. In addition, GDT developed a 3 months iCow Soil Advocacy program training individuals over zoom on Soil Biology. New Partners now also included CABI, Biovision and private donors.. 

The next 10 years iCow will power the GDT Regenerate Kenya initiative which will focus on farmer education on soils and Soil Biology, and we aim to develop citizen scientists and consultants in rural communities, that are experts in soil biology and compost analyses.

Meanwhile iCow continues to grow day by day, one farmer at a time and continues to Educate II Farmers II Everywhere

To learn more or join us, Contact Team iCow

2015 - iCow 2.0

iCow 2.0 was designed to scale across Africa and released on October 18th 2015. The development supported by Accenture has positioned iCow as a one of a kind solution for smallholder farmers on the continent. 2016 saw a deployment of the platform in both Tanzania and Ethiopia.

iCow continues to grow day by day, one farmer at a time and continues to Educate II Farmers II Everywhere

iCow 2.0 *285#

Our innovative SMS library  works on any mobile phone.

2013 - iCow Safaricom Launch

Between 2011 and 2012 the team behind iCow worked in two units, customer care and tech. Customer care marketed iCow directly to farmers in the field and also surveyed new users to get a better understanding of their problems and desires. The tech build was guided by the information coming from the customer care division and resulted in two new products, broadcast information on cows and the virtual market place iCow Soko. Data during this time showed the users of iCow were predominantly males with less than 13% being female. Using customer centric design and quick iterations led to a more robust product and by 2013 iCow was sporting broadcast information on poultry as well cows and poultry calendars as well as cow calendars.

New strategic partnerships to see iCow scale were made during this period too with the elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalisation and Safaricom Ltd. 

iCow 1.0 was officially launched during  the Brookside Livestock Breeders Show on June 26th 2012 by Mr Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom Ltd.

The platform now included USSD.

In 2012 iCow won the Vision 2030 Award for Agriculture in Kenya and was a finalist in the same year for the Innovation Prize for Africa.

iCow 1.0 20285 & *285#

iCow Won the Kenya Vision 2030 ICT Innovation Award for Agriculture

2011 - iCow soft launch

After months of development the soft launch of the SMS based version of iCow took place on June 3rd 2011 at the Serena Hotel in Nairobi. By this time the product had grown from the original gestation calendar to include an ‘expert search’. It had also changed from an IVR based service to SMS. Working with the Directorate of Veterinary Services to include the Kenyan database of experts on the iCow platform this search enabled farmers find their nearest veterinary officer or artificial inseminator 24/7. As such farmers now had access to two powerful tools aimed at reducing dairy cow production risk.

Marketing of iCow was done through visits to farmer groups and slowly farmers started to join the platform.

The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Information and Communications, IT Champion Dr Bitange Ndemo officiated the event joking at the unusual prospect of launching cows in the cloud. Key note Speaker Director of Veterinary Services Dr Ithondeka spoke of the new opportunities and efficiencies ahead as iCow embraced the digital era connecting farmers with their service providers and Dr Judi Wakhungu current Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Regional Development Authorities then in her capacity as Executive Director of the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) in Nairobi, Kenya, applauded iCow as bringing new possibilities for food security in the nation.

iCow was conceptualised in October 2010 after the founder Su Kahumbu Stephanou an ardent organic farmer, was encouraged to enter the Apps4Africa tech hackathon sponsored by the US State Department. Su was at the time designing a product she had named Mkulima Farmer Information Service and Hotline (Mkulima F.I.S.H), a comprehensive agricultural extension service available to farmers over mobile phone. Building on her experience and interactions with smallholder farmers Su recognised that to be successful, farmers needed access to knowledge on good agricultural practices in both livestock and crop production. She thus set out to develop a service that would enable farmers access the vast amounts of content and verified agricultural knowledge available in the regions agricultural institutions, in a format that would be in line with small holder production systems, simple, cost effective and real time.

Mkulima F.I.S.H was designed to including content on crops, livestock, soils, farmer health and the environment. Being competitive in nature, Su took on the challenge to enter the hackathon with a component of Mkulima F.I.S.H, the cow gestation calendar, and named her entry iCow.

The gestation calendar was designed to solve the problem of lack of monitoring a cow during its pregnancy. By monitoring each cow adequately farmers reduce the risk of illness and death at birthing as well as increase their chances of a healthy calf and optimally productive mother cow. iCow required farmers register individual cows onto the platform after which they begIn to receive reminders on dairy cow best practices and actions needed to increase their productivity.

iCow went on to win the first Apps4Africa 2010 competition.

2006-2010 The Organic Shop

In 2004 Su opened the first organic shop in Africa. The Organic Shop was located in Nairobi in Gigiri. Within 3 years she opened another 6 Organic shop-in-shops in Nairobi in leading supermarkets ensuring organic produce was available for a wider market. In addition Green Dreams supplied the airline services and several top hotels and restaurants in Nairobi and Mombasa with fresh salads and herbs. In 2006 Su also started and hosted the first Organic farmers market in the country which has given rise to several similar organic farmers markets in Kenya today.

2004-2006 Green Dreams Farmer Training

To satisfy the growing demand for Green Dreams quality products, Su began to train and support a growing number of smallholder farmers who became the supply chain for a diverse product range of organic foods.

2000-2004 Green Dreams Organic Farm

Green Dreams Farm was the first organic certified farm in Nairobi Kenya. It was situated in Tigoni and specialised in salads and herbs, strawberries, free range poultry and eggs. Su also managed the neighbouring dairy farm which was the 4th organic certified farm in Nairobi which specialised in organic dairy products including milk, yoghurts, kwark and soft fresh cheeses. Products processed and were packed on the farms and delivered to the vegetable shops in Nairobi.