Varsity develops online platform to help farmers access markets

The initiative seeks to reduce post-harvest losses and empower farmers to have higher bargaining power

In Summary

• The digital platform will ensure farmers are effectively connected and can access markets directly for inputs, produce and finances.

• Beneficiaries of the platform will include agricultural cooperatives, agro-dealers and smallholder farmers.

A trader packages maize in Eldoret for sale at local markets
A trader packages maize in Eldoret for sale at local markets
Image: FILE

The Cooperative University of Kenya has set up a digital platform where farmers through cooperatives from different value chains can access market price information.

Josephat Muhunyu, Agriculture Secretary at the State Department for Crop Development in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, said dairy, potato and maize farmers will now have an online platform where they can access markets for their produce.

This is thanks to the Kenya Rural Transformation Centres digital platform that aims to connect farmers with input suppliers, agro-dealers, buyers, and other service providers through farmer cooperatives.

“The platform will put farmers at the centre of a single electronic 'ecosystem' and connect them with all actors along the agricultural sector’s value chain,” Muhunyu said.

He said this would be done through the creation of a single point of convergence for all agro-sector stakeholders in Kenya, thereby connecting farmers with private sector actors and public sector services.

Muhungu spoke on Monday during the launch of the Kenya Rural Transformation Centres Digital Platform (KRTCDP) Project in Nakuru. 

The project is a three-year initiative that will be implemented by the Cooperative University of Kenya in Nakuru, Baringo and Narok counties, with an initial focus on maize, Irish potatoes and dairy farming.

The Kenya Rural Transformation Centres Digital platform project is financially supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), through the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA).

“The goal of the project is to increase productivity, profitability and sustainability of agricultural cooperatives, and to consequently impact the entire agriculture/food and trade value chains, spurring holistic growth across Kenya’s agricultural sector,” he said.

He said the project seeks to give value, incentivise, aggregate data and resources and accrue trust among players in the potato, dairy, maize and value chains.

The agriculture secretary emphasised the importance of research and innovation as a means to solve Kenyan challenges.

Muhunyu said research provides opportunities to develop resilient solutions to challenges faced by Kenyans, and that research remains a key component to the development of any nation.

“It is what I like to call Kenyan 'challenges' solved by Kenyan researchers. I choose to use the phrase challenges and not problems and the simple reasoning is that challenges have solutions, such as the ones we are going to experience during this project implementation, while problems create more problems,” he said.

Muhunyu said special attention and resources ought to be directed towards research.

“Nations that do not have their own research facilities struggle when faced by calamities and pandemics such as the one being experienced in the world,” Muhungu said.

CUK vice chancellor Prof Kamau Ngamau said the KRTCDP project was designed to enable smallholder farmers to connect to all critical players in the agricultural forward and backward value chains.

“Through the shared digital platform, farmers will be able to easily engage input suppliers, agro-dealers, financiers, insurance agencies, marketers and buyers, among other service providers, on a mobile phone platform,” Ngamau said.

He said the platform will enable farmers to be more productive, earn higher incomes and, most importantly, create sustainability in their farming operations.

“They will have access to information that will empower their decision making capacities. Aggregation of their produce will reduce post-harvest losses and empower farmers to have higher bargaining power. With the successful implementation of the project, the farmer wins,” the VC said.

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