News and knowhow for farmers

Marikiti trader develops Jan-Dec market guide to steer you to farming success


By George Munene

Developed over three years by trained economist and Nairobi’s Marikiti trader Joshua Mamwaka, the Marikiti Group Market Guide is a must-have handbook that will help farmers to navigate the ever-dynamic produce markets by predicting future prices for most crops in Kenya, from vegetables, cereals, pulses, tuber crops and fruits enabling you to harvest at the most opportune time for maximum profits moving farmers from bora ukulima to ukulima biashara.

A lack of information on market dynamics remains one of the key challenges to African farmers realising the full value of their agricultural produce. Middlemen, who farmers sell to, have good knowledge of the working conditions of markets and access to agricultural market information which they often use to take advantage of farmers. Studies show that farmers who had access to market information through farmer organised groups had 19 per cent more on average income per season than their counterparts who did not.

“The value this price guide offers to farmers is a predictor with documented color-coded risk profile accuracy of between 90-65 per cent. We want to eliminate the preponderance of guesswork and cluelessness within the agriculture sector by information access and market timing. You’ll know the charted prices of various agri-commodities across every month– when prices are at their highest and lowest as well as their causes. This might be driven by the entry of produce from Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia or China; weather patterns; consumer preference (big vs small onions/tomatoes); on-the-ground farmer sentiment, or a myriad of other factors, explained Mamwaka who’s the administrator of the Marikiti Price Watch group which issues weekly price updates to its subscribers. 

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Having up-to-date market information also enables farmers better negotiate with brokers when selling their produce.

Commodity prices in Kenya are prone to volatile price swings. One season a farmer might strike gold and sell their tomatoes for up to Sh80 a kilogram while the next they might be among those feeding them to cows due to cratering prices. The cost of production though remains constant. “We are looking to mitigate this by helping our farmers anticipate their profits or potential losses over any particular growing season. This helps them invest accordingly per their risk appetite,” said the Nairobi University graduate.

Initially collating price data across the country Mamwaka explained that he narrowed this down to Nairobi’s Wakulima market– Kenya’s largest market by revenue– which offers the best baseline prices for agriproducts across the country. 

The in-depth 36-page report with graphs, tables, and planting timetables (nursery to harvest) for the major crops such as onions, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, watermelon, white onions, capsicums, and cabbages. This timetable shows the best time to establish a nursery in order to harvest when prices are high at the market and supply is low resulting in a ready market.

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The guide costs Sh2,999, with free delivery within Nairobi CBD and parcel and postal charges within and outside Kenya respectively.

As Joshua put it; “The report is written from a farmer’s perspective with their interest in mind but from a broker’s point of view.” Apart from market information, it offers practical advice on dealing with middlemen and handling unscrupulous brokers with real-life experience working with them in the market and farm gate levels.

Joshua Mamwaka: 0792404438

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