By George Munene
At the beginning of the year, over 60 farmers with around 100 acres of land in Njabini, Nyandarua County, collectivised under 3 Ridges Agribusiness Organisation. This they say has helped them get discounted prices for farm inputs and more bargaining power when selling their produce.
“When selling your groceries as an individual, brokers often demand to buy from you in bags, that’s how farmers wind up selling 150 kilograms of potatoes for the price of a 90-kilogram bag. With bulk products that can be got from a sing source and location, we have greater bargaining power and are even looking to bypass middlemen and sell directly to agro-processers,” explained the group’s chairman Samuel Kyihiah.
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The group, which is still in its infancy, is working to leverage its numbers to partner with organisations such as USAID.
Its farmers cultivate potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, spinach, sprouts, and turnips.
For farmers in Njabini, as with most of Kenya, access to markets and the skyrocketing cost of inputs have been the major hurdles to making a success out of farming.
“We train farmers, are able to make bulk purchases at marginally cheaper costs, and source for markets at a position of relative strength than we were before,” said Samuel.
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According to a research paper on the Economic impact of farming cooperatives in East Africa, in Kenya, growing cooperatives provided farmers with collective marketing which improved their incomes compared to noncooperative farmers. Other benefits for the farmers included access to technological innovation and extension services, which were linked to higher-value markets.
In readiness for the short rains, the farmers are sowing the Unica potato variety targeting crisps and chip makers, and are hopeful that more markets will open up in time.
Samuel Kyihiah, 3 Ridges Agribusiness Organisation: 0721813430