A group of 41 Nyamira farmers are earning between Sh500 to Sh1000 per bunch of bananas after establishing a joint marketing collection center to market their bananas. This is triple the amount they used to earn per bunch when they sold the products individually.
The farmers came together to spur sales after receiving various trainings by agricultural extension officers in the region.
According to a publication by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, cooperatives play a crucial role in reducing poverty, improving food security, and generating employment opportunities.
“Cooperatives offer small agricultural producers opportunities and a wide range of services, including improved access to markets, natural resources, information, communications, technologies, credit, training, and warehouses,” said Thomas Nyamongo, an agricultural extension officer in Nyamira.
They also facilitate smallholder producers’ participation in decision-making at all levels, support them in securing land-use rights, negotiate better terms for engagement in contract farming, and lower prices for agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, and equipment.
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Initially, banana marketing in the county was controlled by unscrupulous middlemen who took advantage of farmers for their own selfish gains. The middlemen exploited farmers by buying one bunch of bananas between Sh150 to Sh200, a price farmers considered too low for their produce.
“In 2015 we formed Rikuruma banana bulking and marketing center to ensure we got fair prices for our bananas and eliminate middlemen who dictated the prices to us,” said Rael Mokua, one of the banana agripreneurs in Magwagwa ward.
“Previously each farmer sold their produce alone, I could only manage to sell two or three bunches in a day but as of now we are selling 200 to 300 bunches per day collectively”
The farmers turned entrepreneurs sell the produce at the open-air market in Magwagwa ward, and each member of the group participates in the collection and selling process. The majority of the buyers are usually travelers to various destinations including Nairobi, Kisumu, and Nakuru amongst others.
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The group marketing of the bananas has enabled the farmers to get better market information and empowered them to increase their agricultural productivity hence uplifting their standards of living.
Rael Mokua for instance has increased land under bananas from half an acre to two acres allowing her to collect 13 to 14 bananas weekly for sale. This translates to more than Sh10, 000 income per week as compared to the roughly Sh1200 she used to earn before joining Rikurukma banana bulking and marketing center.