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15,000 sorghum and bean farmers find market power in collective groups

sorghum thresher
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More than 15,000 sorghum and bean farmers in Kenya have found market power in selling their produce through groups of between 15 to 30 members.

Before forming collective marketing groups in 2015, farmers were selling a kilo of sorghum for Sh25 but after joining hands together, they are now selling a kilo at between Sh32 to Sh38 as reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

FAO says that farmers who join cooperative societies to market their produce are more likely to double or triple their income due to improved bargaining power.

“We came together so as to realize profits for our business after FAO conducted trainings on conservation agriculture,” said Purity Gatiria, one of the farmers in Tharaka Nithi.


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Farmers using a sorghum threshing machine. (Photo: 

Purity and members of her group are now harvesting more than one tonne of sorghum up from 100kg after learning techniques on handling post-harvest losses, how to better select and package produce and how measurement of moisture content.

The farmers have also opened bank accounts to save money in a bid to better manage their finances.

“We are saving small quantities of money and this has enabled us buy a motorbike to transport our produce to the market,” said John Kirugi, who is one of the farmers in Purity’s group.

In Kenya, cooperative societies have employed more than 300,000 people in the various sectors dominantly in the agricultural industry. The societies turnover in 2017 was Sh436bn representing 45 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.


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