Nyeri County farmers shows off his organically produced onions. Farmers can notify the market of expected produce via an an app. Photo courtesy.
In avoiding marketing challenges after production, farmers can alert prospective produce buyers in advance through a recently launched mobile app.
Farm Zee App, which is currently running in Tanzania and Zimbabwe, allow for farmers to use Internet enabled and short message service( SMS) to upload expected harvest from given piece of land.
Farm Zee managers aggregate and classify the products into the respective categories, which the buyers select and place and order for the produce.
“Looking for the market in advance is helpful for the farmer and the buyer in planning. Producing without knowing where to sell is the first step into losses. The app allows for farmers and possible buyers to plan well in advance,” the Msasa Mnyalape, the head of Farm Zee marketing team said.
About 40 per cent of food losses in developing countries, including Kenya, happen after harvesting, according to consistent studies by the Food Agriculture Organisation.
Farmers incur losses when the market is flooded, and they do not have specific people to buy their goods.
But with the new app, farmers who do not have Internet-enabled devices can send an SMS for profiling.
But those with the internet share the progress of their produce via photos to attract more buyers.
The owner of the app earns a 2.5 per cent from the sales.
“Farmers and buyers do not incur any costs until the deal is done. That is when Farm Zee gets its share of offering the platform for excahnge,” he said.
The difference between the marketplace app and common middlemen - who exploit farmers - is the non-influence on the price of the goods. The buyer and seller discuss the prices and agree on their own.
Tomatoes, onions, green pepper, kales, spinach and cabbage have been among the major items traded over the three months the marketplace has been running.
In Tanzania, more than 2,000 farmers are using the app while 4,000 others are from Zimbabwe. Mnyalape said plans are underway to roll it out in Kenya.