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    By George Munene

    From a high of Sh150 in January and February, the price of tomatoes around most parts of the country now hovers at just Sh50-15. Many farmers who had dived in headfast into growing tomatoes are now having to contend with minimal profits and in some cases bearing extreme losses.

    Patrick Kirimi, a farmer for over 20 years and agronomist at Kaaga, Meru, chalks down the steep fall in tomato prices to a collusion of factors: Seasonality of tomato supply; the usual down months for tomatoes being January –February and August to November when there’s little rain and open field tomatoes thrive leading to a measure of market oversupply.

    The high prices of tomatoes at the start of the year also saw many, especially first-time farmers, flock to growing tomatoes which led to an unprecedented flooding of the market which in turn sent prices tumbling.  

    Related News: Predict the weather, make tomato fortunes

    Related News: Why farmers are now feeding tomatoes to cows

    Having disrupted all facets of life, the COVID-19 pandemic has naturally had a hand in reshaping agriculture: The many job losses occasioned by the virus have meant a reduction in disposable income. It also left many people having to fall back on farming with its low barrier of entry as a safety net.

    For Ruth Kaari a mixed farmer at Chuka who has four acres under tomatoes, this has been her worst season with the crop yet.”Nisipochomeka hii mwaka, I’ll count myself lucky,” she says. She has heard and grown tired of armchair “just sundry” so-called advice. “Telling a farmer to make tomato puree or sauce amounts to no more than a sunk cost fallacy; the expenses involved are too exorbitant for most medium to small scale farmers. That would also mean having to try and barge some of the established big boys for market shelf space without any prior advertising to a very particular and picky market segment,” she says.    

    Related News: Embu County secures export market for farmers’ tomatoes, onions, capsicum, cabbages, potatoes, chillies, cucumbers and passion among other fruits 

    Through the crisis Patrick Kirimi spies an opportunity; “In the medium term with the November-December rains, I expect tomato prices to self-correct. Longer-term, it’s all conjecture but with the financial and emotional turmoil tomatoes have wrought on farmers I do think most will eschew growing them and there might just be fortunes ahead for those of us who stick it out.”  

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    By George Munene

    In 2019 Kenya imported groundnuts worth Sh303 million, majorly from Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda.

    To meet the nut deficit for both domestic and industrial use, the country’s nut manufacturing companies are urging farmers especially in regions of the country such as Western Kenya, with perfect growing conditions suited to the crop who often struggle with poor prices from the moribund sugar sector to consider the underserved and ready nut market.

    “We have a guaranteed market for our farmers and the prices we offer are based on the world market standard—the price per bag of groundnuts has not dropped below Sh15,000 per bag for years,” says Jackson Masesi, CEO Apiaries International.

    The company is working with 400 farmers in Tanzania, a number it projects will grow to 1500 by the end of the year.

    Related News: Manual decordicator shells 30 times more groundnuts than hand

    Related News: New project offers groundnuts as alternative source of income for sugarcane for Western Kenya farmers

    “For Kenyan farmers we are currently registering nut farmers with a particular focus on organically grown groundnuts to help meet the perennial shortages we and other nut manufacturers experience forcing us to have to source from other African countries,” the CEO adds.

    Despite the lucrative returns farmers can accrue from groundnut farming middlemen often make majority of the profit off farmers, a situation the company hopes to remedy by working directly with them.

    The Nakuru based food manufacturer is contracting 2000+ groundnut farmers in Busia, Baringo, West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet counties. The farmers are receiving certified seeds, fertilisers, agro-chemicals, beehives and fungicides to aid in their production. The company has also dispatched field officers who ensure the farmers conduct proper land preparation and crop husbandry.  

    Related News: This is how to grow and earn millions with groundnuts

    Groundnuts have a fast maturity rate of 90-100 days, with a hectare of certified seeds in areas with favorable topography producing between 20-25 bags.

    In 2019, the Kenyan government aided by the European Union Market Access Upgrade Program (MARKUP) started a nut market access update program in 21 counties in a bid to boost nut production in the country.

    Apiaries International: 0720420514/0774823750

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    By George Munene

    Kenyan agritech selling platform Selina Wamucii has been struggling to meet gloabal market demand for agricultural produce and is seeking to onboard even more farmers. The online platform sets them up with both local and export markets.

    The platform seeks to iron out the market inefficiencies within agriculture in Africa that leave farmers holding the shorter end of the stick by not getting the full value proposition for their produce. 

    As officially registered, organized groups of more than 50 members, farmers can sell directly on the platform, participating in the entire growing, harvesting and market’s supplying value chain within their countries, Africa and the wider export market.

    Related News: Nairobi online farmer’s market links growers with busy office and home consumers

    Related News: Online marketplace app connects farmers to buyers directly

    Founded in 2015, Selina Wamucii is a Kenyan agricultural company and social enterprise that sources, grades and markets fresh produce from small holder farmers, pastoralists as well as fishing communities across Africa, selling to both local and global vendors and distributors,

    Talking to Disrupt Africa, Gaita Kariuki the company’s co-founder explained: “Buyers are looking for quality produce at better prices whilst farmers seek for a truly farmer-centric company that treats them fairly, especially when it comes to payments; technologies including artificial intelligence, data, and algorithms streamline the extremely fragmented African agricultural supply chain. The benefits of an efficient sourcing chain are passed on to both the farmer and the buyer. We were the first company to pay our farmers better prices than what was being offered by anyone else, and on the same day their produce is picked and delivered.”

    The demand for its family farm level sourced agri-produce has over the years seen great market uptake, with the platform nowhere near meeting the capacities demanded by the market. To broaden its supply base Wamucii is working to integrate farmer cooperatives, agro-processors and organisations working directly with farmers at all levels.

    Related News: Techno Brain partners with Microsoft on digital agriculture platform to help farmers in Africa

    With five years of experience in the agriculture value chain, a footprint across Africa and buyers around the globe, the platform also gathers AI driven price outlook insights.

    To be on boarded onto the Selina Wamucii farmers program fill in the form here; https://www.selinawamucii.com/farmers/

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