Buyers and sellers of farmers’ produce can now trade their produce by using SOKOFRESHI, a mobile phone application that is aimed at opening up the commodity market.
SOKOFRESHI has so far linked more than 100,000 farmers to markets across to local and international markets.
In this, farmers can sell over 100 products at the comfort of their homes by dialing *415*22# to activate their accounts with Sh100 through lipa na mpesa till number 979041.
To buy a product, one needs to register as a buyer by dialing the same number *415*22# and select the product they want to buy such as avocados, carrots, or maize whereby they will automatically get the contacts of the sellers of the produce.
SokoFreshi brings together rural farmers close to buyers of the produce. It also offers a platform for manufacturers, food packers, investors and technology innovators to interact with the farmers. It enables participants to share and showcase agricultural production and value addition opportunities.
Elias Kabiru, a rabbit buyer for instance has managed to buy over fifty rabbits from farmers since 2017 after registering with SOKOFRESHI where he has managed to receive a list of rabbit farmers via his mobile phone.
“Initially, I had difficulties in buying rabbits and had to place posters in Kikuyu town to find out potential rabbit farmers, however I now have a long list of farmers to buy from through the connection with the mobile telephony service,” said Kabiru.
The businessman used to buy four to five rabbits in a week but now buys more than 20 rabbit at Sh5,000 each but the price may vary depending on the size and age.
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Youth using his knowledge to train and help farmers in crop production, further linking them to markets
French beans farmer
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.