Farmers are moving into schools and other institutions in search of markets as their peers who rely on buying companies and middlemen suffer losses due to delayed sales.
Trans-Nzoia County potato farmer William Wafula Ndalila realised the potential of selling farm products to schools after consecutive losses to low prices in local markets.
In the first term, the farmer sold 15 sacks of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes to two schools at better prices than those offered by wholesalers and piecemeal village buyers.
“Selling to schools was faster than local markets. They bought in bulk and at standard prices, without much scrutiny on the size of the potatoes,” he said.
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Ndalila sold 10 sacks of 110kg bags to St Patrick’s Kitale Boys High school.
St Brigids Girls High School Kiminini bought five sacks.
The same quantity of potatoes only fetches less at the local Kamukuywa Market when sold to brokers.
Individual selling in folds of four or five is even worse, with the farmer running into the risk of delayed harvest and spoilage of unsold ones.
The remaining 11 out of the 26 sacks he had harvested from half an acre, were sold to wholesale buyers at Kamukuywa Market, Kitale.
Another Kitale maize and sugarcane farmer, Charles Odida, said producing for an imaginary market is a sure way of making losses after investment.
Although Western Kenya farmers are crying over poor payment by public sugar companies, as more other millers close down due to bulky debts, Odida dodged this predicament by entering into a supply contract with a prompt-paying private miller.
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He has also signed maize delivery contacts with schools to ensure that there are no losses resulting from nonpayment or infections like aflatoxins while in store.
“I learned the trick of looking for a market before production while at primary school. I identified that the teachers needed vegetables in my school. I grew and sold kales to them. I was never disappointed,” he said.
He has more than 100 acres under sugarcane and maize.