John Kinyua, a computer science graduate from Chuka University has invented an app that will help farmers connect to consumers directly without having to pass through brokers.
Mkulima Bora is an android app that can be downloaded from Google Playstore and allows farmers to download, register and access features such as buying and selling.
“I came up with the app in 2014 to connect farmers with consumers across the country; this was after I saw my parents incurring losses in their banana farm due to lack of market. I realized that farmers had challenges in conquering the market because there were no ideal platforms to connect them to consumers,” said Kinyua.
A 2010 research paper published in the Journal of Agriculture and Social Research (JASR) on the implications of middlemen in the supply chain of products found that middlemen pretend to bridge the gap between small scale retailers and the manufacturers but their mode of doing business is a threat to small scale retailers.
“The real profit goes to the middlemen who buy up the farm products at almost give away prices and sell at outrageous prices to the consumers. This attitude of middle men have discouraged genuine investors getting into agriculture because of the marginal profit associated with it as the middle men cart away the bulk of the profits,” the research revealed.
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Currently, approximately 5,000 users have registered on Mkulima Bora app while an average of 200 farmers uses it daily.
The app charges users/farmers Sh50 weekly or Sh150 monthly in subscription fees. First time registered users however, get the use to app for free within the first six months of registration before paying for it.
The app has a library of 200 e-books in which farmers can purchase to enhance their farming skills. In this, Mkulima Bora keeps 40 per cent of book sales with the rest going to the qualified professionals who wrote them.
The app uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to study consumer behaviors so as to provide farmers with quality market. AI also helps to identify which areas are in high demand of a certain product.
A farmer who has no smart phone can posts his product on the Short Message Service (SMS) by writing the product name then # and location and send it to the number +254 780 00 66 10. In this, he or she is connected to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter thereby increasing the marketability of the produce.
“One of the challenges we have faced is financial constraints, even though we have realized Sh800,000 from the app since 2014, Sh600,000 have gone towards developing and running it,” said Kinyua.