• April 15, 2024
  • Last Update April 14, 2024 9:48 PM
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Digital platform to integrate small holder farmers in agriculture value chain

Digital platform to integrate small holder farmers in agriculture value chain


Thursday, March 21, 2024

KNA by Wangari Ndirangu

Stakeholders in the Kenya Rural Transformation Centers Digital Platform (KRTCDP), project have for the last one year been collecting critical views from the ground in three key value chains of dairy, Irish potatoes and maize.

The project was launched a year ago and is being spearheaded by the Co-operative University of Kenya (CUK) and funded by African Development Bank (AfDB), to empower and integrate smallholder farmers with all actors along the agriculture value chain.

Speaking during a validation workshop, the CUK Vice Chancellor, Prof. Kamau Ngamau, said farmers and farmer organizations such as co-operatives stand to benefit the most in this project as the information, they access from the digital platform will enable them access quality inputs, enjoy extension services, financing facilities, and broaden the market reach.

“Farmers and farmer organizations in the pilot Counties of Narok, Nakuru, Baringo and Nyandarua, will be able to make informed decisions and generate more returns from their economic activities, as this is a model example of the impact of research and innovation on a people” , he said .

Prof. Ngamau explained that together with the consultants in the four counties, they have come up with a report that will be validated in the meeting.

The three year project that was launched last year , he said, will be able to see farmers access information on a platform on inputs like seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, agrovet, meteorological data and also weather partners, so that they can know when they need to plant.

“Through the digital platform, farmers will also get extension services, access to credit and even markets, We hope that we will be able to have the financial service providers also coming on board, so that a farmer can be able to access and we are working with cooperatives who bring farmers together”, he said.

He applauded the input providers from the Ministries in the counties who have come together with the report and information to be validated.\Prof. Ngamau gave an example of the dairy sector noting that if they can be a big enough number coming together they can even go ahead and have their own processing plant and they sell finished products and also value add in terms of yoghurt and other dairy products.

Post-harvest losses account for in some cases over 40 percent of the total production and therefore the VC said adding that by farmers coming together in a cooperative, they can then be able to even set up facilities such as storage facilities for their Irish potatoes stemming the losses.

Prof. Ngamau said once the validation of the reports is done, the developer of the system will now embark on working with the user requirements that have been identified, have that platform worked on and then they will be able to pilot the whole system in the pilot counties.

“The project is three years, so by the end of the three year we should have it up and running”, the VC confirmed.

The Deputy Commissioner for Co-operative Development, Simon Mburia, said as a corporate sector, they are going to be the biggest beneficiaries of this program.

“From Sessional Paper No. 4 of 2020 on National Co-operative Policy on promoting co-operatives for socio-economic transformation, we identified the documentation of cooperative data as one of the biggest challenges in the development of cooperatives in the country. And one of the suggestions or recommendations from the policy paper was to establish digital information centers in the country that will facilitate knowledge sharing and also information flow”, he explained.

This venture will be very important to the farmer because one, It will be very easy now to provide the required inputs to the farmer through the cooperatives.

“ If one requires a certain type of fertilizer, it will be very easy now for a cooperative to acquire the right type of fertilizer instead of just acquiring any fertilizer and distributing regardless of need, avoiding wastage.He acknowledged that in the past, due to lack of information of the individual members but with this platform targeting cooperatives it is going to be easy even when it comes to matters of payment that should be directed directly to the farmer and not to the cooperative.

“The co-operative will just be a record keeper and an organizer, aggregating but farmer issues, money issues will be directed to the farmer from the corporate society’s account to the farmer’s account and with the currently technology, the farmer is able to communicate to the authorities and that will assist the policy formulation the university is doingThe co-operative have a very big role and if one looks at the BETA agenda, sector has been given a very big responsibility as an enabler to achieve the four pillars, health, agriculture, manufacturing and ICT”, Mburia said .

Joseph Naimodu , a dairy farmer from Narok County said the platform will assist them in accessing information about markets and the prices that are available in the market.

“Farmers have been incurring a lot of losses because their produce is usually ready to go to the market, but then they don’t know where to take their produce. At the same time, brokers have been taking advantage of the lack of information to come in and cheat farmers and give them poor prices:” , he added.

Farmers in turn ,Naimodu said, continue to suffer big losses and cannot progress well in their farming activities.

This platform would address that in the sense that we have one platform where you can use your phone to access any information, on which you could possibly sell your products at the best available prices in the market and also information about who is interested in your product.

Risper Chepkonga, CEC Agriculture, Livestock & Blue Economy -Baringo County said the importance of digitalization in Africa really helps in making informed decisions.

“This program from Cooperative University, the 3-year program, is going to really assist us in terms of making informed decisions, especially even on the substantive program, connecting the weather reports. the markets that are available to the farmers in terms of the size of land, the mechanization, when to get the products to the market in terms of the transport network or even identifying the stakeholders in the industry”, she said .

Chepkonga noted that what Digitization in agricultural activities means to other government projects is looking at what the amount of fertilizers they have , the number of farmers , the acreage that is required because then they are able to know, plan and also distribute farm inputs across board and in good time.

She acknowledged the Kenya Rural Transformation Centers Digital Platform (KRTCDP) project noting that Baringo will benefit in all the three-value chain in it as they grow Maize, are in Dairy and also in Irish potato farming.

Data and digital solutions play an important enabling role in Agriculture transformation and can support the sector to achieve its primary objective of increasing small-scale farmers, pastoralists, and fisher folk incomes for approximately 3.3 million households and impact about 15 million Kenyans.

Courtesy; KNA

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