Trucks line up to deliver maize to the National Cereals and Produce Board. Online grain selling platform saves farmers over 30 per cent losses. PHOTO BY BUSINESS DAILY.
Farmers aggregating and selling grains via online platform, G-Soko, are saving more than 30 per cent of their harvests due to access to quality storage facilities besides profitable markets.
G-Soko, which is an online system serving farmers in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, among other great lakes region countries, links the agro-producers to ready bulky-buying markets.
Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) officer Sam Rutto said farmers lose more than 30 per cent of the harvest to poor storage and handling procedures ahead of selling.
A part from losses to pests like rats, weevils and moths, poorly dried grains are invaded by aflatoxins, which render them useless.
Farmers dry the produce to at least 13.5 per cent moisture content. They deliver the grains to the 139 village aggregation centres (VACs) in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
“Across the region, farmers have benefitted from improved storage solutions, which have enabled them to sell their produce at prices between 15 per cent and 30 per cent above the current market prices,” EAGC Executive Director Gerald Masila said.
The weight, quality and other details of the consignment are captured and profiled against the farmer’s electronic database. They have, however, to do it in groups, through the VACs.
The grains are moved to the 53 regional EAGC certified warehouses for storage until the farmer decides to sell.
For every 90kg bag, the farmer incurs a cost of between Sh10 and Sh20, depending on the type of grain, Masila said.
“Fumigation and storage in inspected warehouses keeps off destruction agents like pests and weather agent like rains. The produce remains safe until the price is high,” the director said.
Other companies like Grain Trading Ltd can also buy the grains from the farmers while at the warehouse.
Millers of maize, for instance, can buy the produce in bulky, from the stores at better prices than those offered at the ‘roadside’.
Instead of other farmers selling their maize at throw away prices to meet next season input cost, they can secure soft loans of up to 70 per cent through the G-vouchers, which will be deducted later.
READ ALSO: Farmers access loans with stored grains
“EAGC scouts out on the best prices for farmers. It is not about the price offered by the buyer, but the profit a farmer makes through the sale. EAGC helps reduce the cost of production for the farmer to make profits,” Masila said.
Although the National Cereals and Produce Board offers slightly higher prices to farmers, the long delivery queues eat into the profits of farmers, who have to pay for the extra man hours and the number of days the truck waits to offload the cargo. The cereals may also not be in good state at selling time.
The G-Soko system also alerts farmers on the grains on demand through East and Southern Africa.
More than 50,360 metric tonnes have been traded with the help of the online platform.
G-Soko is one of the grantees of the Food Trade East and Southern Africa projects funded by the UKaid and implemented by the DAI.