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    By George Munene

    The government is targeting an increase in the current Sh33 minimum milk buying price to encourage improved production by farmers. Poor rains across the country and the high cost of feed have contributed to dwindling milk supplies, which have fallen short of meeting the existing demand.

    "The newly embarked on regulations within the dairy sector will in time lead to improved production from our farmers as they will now be guaranteed a return on their investment. As the demand for milk continues to outstrip its supply we have resolved to review the existing minimum milk buying price. This will be continually done every six months, adjusting to prevailing market conditions," said Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya at a field day at the University of Embu on Friday. 

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    At the event organised by the Kenya Dairy Board (KDB), Munya pointed out that with proper stewardship of the dairy sector, Kenya has the capacity to produce enough milk to supply the local market as well as becoming a major player in its export.

    KDB Managing Director Margaret Rugut informed that the parastatal had trained over 100 dairy farmers in Embu in an effort to improve on the current 45 million litres produced by the county's farmers which is well below the current demand.

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    "However, we have observed an improvement in the quality of milk produced by farmers after constructing a milk laboratory in Embu Town, " she said.

    Rugut assured farmers that the board was working to put up more coolers across the county which has been a major complaint raised by dairy farmers.

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    Ifarm360 3

    By George Munene

    A little over a year after establishing Ifarm360, as a crowdfunding hub that helped pool investment for farmers short on capital, the company's founders were faced with a challenge most Kenyan farmers are all too familiar with: difficulty in obtaining a consistent and ready market. 

    This set them up with the small task of realising their company’s stated objective: “Structuring Africa's fragmented food supply chain.” According to Milka Owuor, CEO of Ifarm360, In just two months of the pilot scheme the company has built a database of over 2,000 farmers, 300 of whom they work with directly, and a client base of 20 bulk buyers that includes Twiga Foods, Beyond Fruits, Field Fresh, Farm to Feed among others. This has seen them deliver at least Sh5 million of value to farmers and improve their household incomes by 170 per cent. 

    Every week, they deal in 100-150 tons of onions sourced from Kieni, Nyeri County—Kenya’s largest onion-producing region. 25-50 tons of potato got from the country’s potato hub of Molo in Nakuru County, as well as smaller quantities of carrots. 

    Key to ifarm’s success is an Amazon-style supply chain that begins with collection centers—two dealing in onions located at Gatarakwa Ward in Kieni and another for potato farmers at Keringet town near Molo. At Gatarakwa, onions are aggregated from various farmers, and basic value addition; drying, curing, grading, and sorting is done. This is a crucial first step, as the firm’s Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Derrick Gakuu explains: “Our buyers have been gladly surprised by the consistent quality of our onions which hold up to any Tanzanian imports.”  

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    Kenyan farmers have been gradually losing market share to the more popular Tanzanian onion which traders argue is better cured—a month-long process of drying down onions for storage—therefore has a longer shelf life. 

    The onions are then sorted and graded to match buyer requirements— ”retail chains and mama mbogas demand the premium medium-sized onions; large grade two onions are preferred by institutions; while smaller disfigured onions, classed as grade three are sent to organisations such as Farm to Feed which are focused on waste reduction within the agricultural supply chain,” Gakuu explained.   

    Buyers often reject up to 60 per cent of onions delivered by farmers; this is a consequence of poor market research on buyer preference and a lack of sorting onions post-harvest. Through the Tanzanian government's investment in these basic last mile value addition benchmarks, they have enabled their farmers to outcompete Kenyan growers.   

    From the collection centers the produce is moved to the company’s fulfillment hub in Kieni, Nyeri County. Here, the onions are stocked and packaged under optimised storage conditions awaiting client orders which are fulfilled within 48 hours.

    Ifarm360

    “By pooling their yields, our smallholder farmers have greater bargaining power, their earning potential is further strengthened by adding value to their produce and by the quality controls we have instituted. These are all benefits they didn’t enjoy before when selling individually to brokers,” Derrick said.

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    Having unburdened them of any value addition or standardization processes once they offtake their onions, the company’s buyers are a happier lot as well, expressed by a 75-90 per cent approval.

    The company is gearing up to get into the watermelon and tomato value chains with the hope of having as transformative an impact on these farmers.

    In February of this year, Ifarm Agritech won The World Tourism Organization's (UNWTO) Zero hunger Sustainable Goals Global Startup Competition.

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    avocado society of kenya

    By George Munene

    Avo Pesa is a new platform that connects avocado farmers to local and international avocado buyers. Founded by The Avocado Society of Kenya (ASOK), a registered association for avocado growers, exporters, and other value chain players, Avo Pesa will help streamline marketing inefficiency within the avocado sector by connecting farmers directly to large scale buyers, improving the long-term profitability of avocado agribusiness in Kenya.

    “All farmers do is register on ASOK’s website, giving their name, contact details, and location. Their expected harvests and offer price as well as the avocado variety, ” explained Newton Maina, a company executive, and agronomist.

    The platform also registers both local and international avocado buyers. 

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    Related News: Global avocado demand projected to double by 2024.

    More farmers are setting their sights on avocado farming as the fruit’s profits continue to soar. Data from the Horticultural Crops Directorate showed that avocados made up half of fruit exports in Kenya, with the country being among the top five global producers of the fruit in 2020. 72,000 tons of avocados were exported last year, up from 59,000 tons the previous year earning avocado farmers and exporters Sh15 billion dollars.

    “Until the end of the season we will be experiencing a seller’s market and farmers should capitalise on this depressed avocado supply,” Maina said. 

    Avocado prices are at their lowest at the start of their harvest; between February and March. 

    Related News: Kakuzi offering avocado farmers free fruit maturity testing services

    The Avocado Society of Kenya’s membership encompasses growers, exporters, government entities, and private sector players. So far the firm has onboarded 8,571 growers, 155 corporate members, 25 international members, and exports the fruit to 7 major international destinations. 

    Farmers can access Avo Pesa here: Farmer sell request

    Buyers can access Avo Pesa here: Buy Kenya avocados

    The Avocado Society of Kenya: 0722292360

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