SMS Service Kicks Out Middlemen

By Silale Keit
August 29, 2023

M-Shamba platform helps Kenya's farmers and buyers get better prices

Tranzoia County is one among the 47 counties of Kenya. It is a county known for its lush green landscapes, breathtaking hills, and vibrant communities. The air here is filled with a sense of warmth and unity that is truly infectious.

Now, when it comes to farming, it means the world to this area! It is the area feeding almost 70% of the Kenyan population. Agriculture is the backbone of this county, with a significant portion of the population relying on farming for their livelihoods.

With fertile soils and favorable climatic conditions, Tranzoia county boasts a diverse range of crops, from maize and beans to tea and coffee to bananas and Avocados. The people here are incredibly passionate about farming, and it is evident in the way they care for their land and produce.

But despite farming being the lifeblood of this area’s economy, many buyers still struggle to access farm products. We meet Charles Mogoka aged 47, who is a trader and local of this rich region. Mogaka doesn’t look like a businessman. Decked out in a brown, rustic-looking shirt and black trousers, complete with a black cap, he may seem like a farmer at first glance but he is not.

He has poured his heart and soul into such of quality products which he then sells in his  medium sized shop. Unlike many buyers, he has mastered the heart of building relationships with farmers, who allow him to have the freedom to scout whatever he wants in their farms.

‘’To deliver quality products, I have to ensure their is quality control and that’s by building close relationship with farmers who let me in to their farms’’ he says

Until late last year Mogaka says he has been struggling on getting products from farmers. One because he doesn’t know where to find them and two because middle men always interfere with the process. In many African countries, after a good yield, a farmer who is not well connected in selling their produce always seeks help from a middleman or broker. In such a case the middlemen act as a link between the farmer and the vendors.

These middlemen can be quite a hurdle for both parties involved. Farmers often find themselves at the mercy of these intermediaries who dictate prices and take a big chunk of their hard-earned profits while on the other hand, buyers have to deal with inflated prices due to the involvement of these middlemen.

‘’They exploit the situation by offering low prices to farmers and selling to us at inflated prices. It is unfair practice that not only deprives farmers of their rightful earnings but also burdens buyers with unnecessarily high costs’’ says Mogaka

 However, innovation is slowly changing this. Last year Mogaka was informed by a friend about M-Shamba, a digital platform that directly connects farmers to markets and buyers to products.

While this cuts the need for a middleman who eats into the farmers profit by buying products from them at low prices and selling at a high cost, it also promotes direct farmer-to-buyer relationships. A relationship like that which Mogaka has with one of the farmers he buys from.

‘’ Through this platform I have built a relationship with the farmers. They let me into their farms to choose the quality of products I need. Before, this could not happen’’ says Mogaka

 M-Shamba platform allows him to use it any day any time to look for farmers selling their products within his preferred location. He uses a USSD code of *789*9999# which directs him to choose what he is looking for. Whether it is maize, tea, banana or any other products.

Today he is looking for bananas. The platform has connected him with a farmer who has allowed him to go round his one hectare farm, select the bananas he wants and pay for it.  A price which the farmer negotiated with him through the M-Shamba platform.

‘’I want 40 bunches of bananas and we have already agreed on the price through the M-shamba platform. This is a freedom we never had as traders now the farmer is happy and I am happy’’

Bunches of banana Mogaka has purchased

After two hours of going up and down around the farm the buyer is satisfied with what he got. The farmer counts to confirm and the buyer pays for his 40 bunches. He packs them in his small car and he leaves satisfied.

The M-Shamba platform has now changed how buyers like Mogaka buy their farm products and now farmers can practice farming as an economic activity with good returns.

About Silale Keit

Silale Keit
Passionate Storyteller with a BA in Mass Communication and Media Studies. Sidale has a substantial experience in the media production industry with an insatiable appetite for changing the African Narrative. Her work has been published in both local and international outlets. She is really excited to bring positive stories about Africa to life through working with Impacc by showcasing how its ventures are driving change.

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