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The Art of Behavior Change

“We have always done it this way,” is the answer we received from a young poultry farmer in Athi River, a small town outside Kenya’s capital Nairobi, when we asked her why her chicken coop was a particular height. Further discussion around farming methods revealed she was willing to change her farming practices if she had access to reliable and convenient sources of information. This statement resonates with many of…

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The Potato Trade: From the middle-man’s perspective

Potatoes are the second most important crop in Kenya, after maize. They are grown by approximately 800,000 farmers, 98% of whom are smallholders and are mostly women.  Smallholders grow on less than 1 hectare and produce 83% of the countries production, according to the National Potato Council of Kenya.  Smallholders sell approximately 80% of their potatoes to mostly urban markets, and 70% of potatoes sold are chipped and served as…

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Is the time ripe for Agricultural e-commerce in Kenya? Four signals to watch.

Most entrepreneurs will tell you that apart from luck and financing, the right timing for launching a product is the final spice that makes the meal rewarding. While catching up on my tech reading I stumbled on a book authored by Porter Erisman on the rise of Alibaba, ‘Alibaba’s World’, and in reflection I found many intersections with the key themes discussed and the current context we find ourselves in…

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Seven insights from Kenyan Value Added Service Providers delivering digital solutions to small holder farmers

Finding viable solutions to deliver financial and non-financial digital services to Kenyan small holder farmers may sometimes feel comparable to discovering the lost city of Atlantis. Both pursuits, led by explorers enamored with fulfilling activities, often conclude in more failures than successes. Fortunately, there are many Kenyan explorers: AFA’s Ecosystem Review uncovered at least 125 potentially sustainable technology firms that aim to offer a range of digital solutions that may…

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Agricultural Market systems failure may lead to low demand for financial services by Smallholder farmers

Agricultural Market systems failure may lead to low demand for financial services by Smallholder farmers

An agricultural market system includes the full range of products, services and relationships such as access to finance, inputs, information, formal and informal rules, policies and logistics, buyers and so on. These products and services work together more or less based on demand and determine the interaction between smallholder farmers and the end market. Where the interactions do not function well resulting in lack of information, poor infrastructure, limited access…

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Kenyan Farmers Go Digital

I decided to give it (digital marketing) a try after I saw it being advertised on television, and to my surprise it worked!” Says Cornelius Kiptoo, a 26 year old farmer from Metkei village, Uasin Gishu County, some 400 Kilometers from Nairobi, Kenya. Cornelius is a smallholder farmer who grows oats, potatoes, maize, and vegetables and also keeps dairy cows. In the past, he sold his farm produce to middlemen…

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More capability, less complexity: Farmer Capability channels

Like most small-holder farmers in his area, Jeremiah Njoroge, seen above, actively seeks out useful and relevant information to support his farming enterprise. Radio happens to be top source of this information for him. “I listen to Inooro’s ‘Sauti ya Mkulima’ programme” he says with a satisfactory grin in response to our question. “Sauti ya Mkulima (‘The Voice of the Farmer’ in English) is a radio programme that airs at…

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MoMo and the Small Holder Farmer (MoMo – Mobile Money)

Mobile Money aka MoMo was conceived in 2007 in Kenya. Earlier close relatives in East Africa and distant relatives in Asia, such as Smart Money in the Philippines, had begun their life trek a few years earlier, but few have grown to colossal heights as the Kenyan product. Indeed with platform capacity of 900 transactions per second, an agent network of over 80,000 points, a merchant network of over 100,000…

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Driving Digital Inclusion for Smallholders – An Ecosystem Approach

Digital technology can be a powerful tool to reach smallholders with information, market linkages and financial services with extremely low costs at sufficient scale. A recent McKinsey study estimates that mobile and internet technology can drive up to $3 billion in annual agricultural productivity gains by 2025.[i] However, McKinsey points to the specific scale challenge for mobile agriculture services, recommending focus on the full ecosystem around farmers, including warehousing, logistics,…

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Building transparency through digital systems and collaboration with Youth

When Ichagi youth group was formed in 2011, one of the early decisions the group made was to open a bank account where they could hold proceeds from their members’ contributions and from product sales. “This was an important step because we did not want to be like other groups that got destroyed by lack of transparency and accountability,” explains Hilary Muigai, the group secretary. Poultry keeping in Kenya Kenya…

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