News and knowhow for farmers

Online platform links banana, potato and maize farmers to markets

soko plus

Soko+, an online digital commodity trading and information system is linking potato, banana and maize farmers to markets at a time when Kenyan farmers lost Sh150bn worth of produce last year due to post-harvest losses resulting from inadequate markets.

In this, the platform has linked more than 16,594 Meru farmers for free to bulk buyers of produce in a bid to assist them get ready markets so as to enable them earn more income and improve their livelihoods.

To register with Soko+, send a short message to the number 20245 following the procedure #IDNumber#FirstName#LastName#County.

To get market prices for maize for instance send an SMS to 20245 in the format Price#Commodity#Town e.g. Example Price#Maize#Nakuru.

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“We encourage farmers to aggregate their produce in bulk through formation of groups so as to improve their bargaining power in the negotiation process and earn better prices by reaching into desirable markets,” said Martin Murangari, the Operations Manager, Sokopepe.

Soko+ has 30 agents who physically visit the farms and take photos of farmers produce before posting them online on their website where prospective buyers will purchase it.

The website will list all the details of the farmer including the kind of produce he or she is selling, the market price of the produce and the amount to be sold.

Isaac Gatobu, a potato farmer in Meru for instance, has increased his earnings from Sh2200 per bag to between Sh4500 to Sh5000 after registering with soko+ in 2014.

“Initially I was selling his produce in Chuka town where the prices were low but since I was introduced to soko+ in 2014 by a friend I have been receiving market information on potato prices within various towns such as Marsabit where I currently sell my produce,” said Gatobu.

Soko+ provides market information for cereals, legumes and horticulture crops for towns including but not limited to Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru, Mombasa and Malindi.

In 2017, Kenyan farmers lost 1.9m tonnes of food as they struggled to find markets according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

Of the total food wasted, maize, Kenya’s staple food was the most affected with the country losing Sh29.6bn worth of the crop yet it imported another bunch worth Sh42bn.

Green bananas were the second most affected crop as farmers lost Sh24bn worth of the produce.

Other produce that went to waste due to poor storage and handling, transport, and fungi attack, according to data contained in the 2018 Economic Survey released in April, includes Irish potatoes (Sh19.7bn), milk (Sh12.4bn), beans (Sh11.5bn), ripe yellow bananas (Sh5.6bn), sweet potatoes (Sh3.5bn), tomatoes (Sh2.4bn), pineapples (Sh2.4bn), sorghum (Sh1.9bn), and millet (Sh1.6bn).

According to the survey, Kenya loses approximately a third of its produce yearly through post-harvest losses and wastage by consumers who buy more food than they can consume.

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