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Mkulima Young: One Stop Shop for farmers and other traders in agricultural value chain.

A mobile based one stop shop for farmers and other service providers in agricultural value chains

Photo of Joseph Macharia
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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Mkulima Young is a premier networking and marketing platform for farmers and other players in the agricultural value chains in Kenya. We connect farmers, buyers and sellers in the agricultural sector through an android mobile app, website, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.
The basic platform is developed using social network framework that enables farmers to interact with traders, retailers’ consumers and each other. The network encourages the emergence of a sustainable and fair marketplace, increased productivity through provision of farming information, increased profitability by reducing information asymmetry eg in price and demand, enables cooperation and knowledge sharing, expand the local market size and potentially improve bargaining powers of smallholders farmers while giving them the power to decide on the price.The component has a dashboard where farmers can post their produce (earlier before harvesting), quote price and give their location. This creates a virtual marketplace where purchase and sale of produce is e initialized and transactions done virtually after due diligence or face-to-face meeting. The platform also enables farmers to t questions and demand driven information developed to the frequent asked questions. Mkulima young rides on the rapid uptake of ICT Africa, which has been identified as an important opportunity to improve the performance of agricultural value chains from the farm to the market. Mkulima Young is a social enterprise.

WHO BENEFITS?

Our main beneficiaries are farmers and other actors in agricultural values chains such as input providers, traders, transporters and even consumers. From the platform farmers are able to access vital and relevant information while accessing a market for their produce. The traders and input sellers on the other hand are able to access the commodities they need while also selling their services and goods to customers .

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

It will be implemented in the whole of Kenya with spill over to Tanzania and Uganda

ARE YOU IMPLEMENTING IN AN ELIGIBLE COUNTRY?

  • Yes

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU!

The founder of Mkulima Young is a trained extension officer. Mkulima Young is an organization based in Kenya but with reach to other countries in Africa in agribusiness development focusing on youth engagement and building their capacity to pursue opportunities in agribusiness.

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

This is not a new idea. It has already been tested for one year. The app is integrated with the website www.mkulimayoung.com which has been in existence for 3 years.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

The idea is unique in that it will provide a one stop shop for farmers. It allows farmers to market their produce while still in the farm and empowers them to decide on selling price through comparison and evaluation of cost of production. Farmers advertise their produce to a wider audience virtually hence access a wider market base. Farmers can also ask questions to other farmers and technical people in agriculture. The farmers market their own products by taking pictures of the produce in the farm and posting it before harvesting, They can also ask questions and get more resourceful information in agriculture from experts through the platform. The unique advantage we have is the huge social network followings that gives the farmers produce wide market catchment. The idea has been developed as per the need and demand by the users and has been tested and continuously modified to meet the changing times. The enabling environment in ICT and especially wide penetration of mobile phone technology in Kenya accelerates adoption.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

Mkulima Young team are dedicated in making this idea a reality. We also have partners in the agriculture sector such as the inputs suppliers.

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

What to incorporate in our app such as the transport and the business model and improving trust on the virtual platform.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

How to develop a more comprehensive business model

WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?

Most farmers have not been able to market their farm produce to a wider audience without the middlemen. Their produce sometimes goes to waste due to lack of awareness by the buyers and also the market distortion created by the presence of very few middlemen who dictate prices and market access for their own individual gain. In our knowledge there hasn't been a platform where a farmer can advertise their produce directly, (even before harvesting), exchange information with other farmers and seek required information from the comfort of his farm. Buyers are made aware of the available produce and transporters can offer services. This enhances business activities in the agribusiness value chain

WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?

The ultimate goal is to have a one stop shop online market place in agriculture. Farmers are connected to each other and meet other services providers such as transporter, inputs and equipment suppliers in East Africa.
Our next step will involve developing the business model and investors in expanding the ideas to other developing countries and making the app available to IOS and windows.

MEMBERS OF MY TEAM HAVE BEEN WORKING TOGETHER FOR:

  • Between 6 months and a year
  • More than a year

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within 50 km of where our team does most of its work
  • Within 100 km of where our team does most of its work
  • Within in 500 km of where our team does most of its work
  • More than 500 km from where our team does most of its work

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • Under $100,000

Mkulima Young is an online platform that based in in Kenya but with reach to other countries in Africa in agribusiness development focusing on youth engagement and building their capacity to pursue opportunities in agribusiness. Young farmers are plagued with problems affecting their productivity and marketing where middlemen offer meager prices for their produce, delays with payments and expensive farm inputs. Mkulima Young is connecting young farmers and those aspiring them with each other in a virtual space'. Through this platform we provides an exclusive farmers marketplace where producers meet the buyers

Our activities encompass agricultural advisory and providing market access and information of high value products and services including, livestock and crop products. We also provide real time feedback to the inquiries of young and aspiring farmers. We utilize digital platform such as the website www.mkulimayoung.co.ke, social media (Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mkulima.young ,twitter https://twitter.com/mkulimayoung , WhatsApp and youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/mkulimayoung ) Recently we have developed a mobile app branded Mkulima Young available via Android operating system https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mkulimayoung.mkulimaApp&hl=en. Our strength is in application of social media and ICT to reach a large number of young and other people actively involved in agribusiness. We currently have over 80,000 followers/members on our Facebook page and 12,600 followers on twitter. We have over 4,000 downloads on our app within few months. Over the past four years of existence, we have gained extensive experience in the agricultural industry in Kenya and the region, and understand well the great potential of agribusiness and also some of the key issues that need strengthening through further research and capacity building to realize the full potential of the sector.


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Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi Joseph,

The Amplify team and our experts have some feedback from you:

How exactly the app will facilitate transport of produce by individual farmers to buyers?

Also, it is interesting that the app intends to go beyond the national frontiers, but it is not indicated what would be the added value of such an approach, how would this make the idea more viable? is there a market need or are the three countries' markets complementary in any way?

The fact that it targets young farmers is another valuable aspect.

In my view farmers are still in generation 2 mobile thus all such solutions over web are good for anchor buyers but less for farmers, is this true? Will farmers be able to access a tool like this? 

How does the app account for the fact that the price of produce is also a function of market movements, availability of produce in some areas? How are you taking into consideration logistical challenges liked to transport, building trust between sellers and buyers etc.?

Can you tell us more about the business model for this idea?

Please tell us more about how beneficaries have informed the design of this idea?

Looking forward to learning more! 

Photo of Joseph Macharia
Team

TRANSPORT: Directly, the app and its supporting platforms will facilitate transport by disseminating information regarding informal and formal transport services and ride sharing/car-pooling. In particular, the app will have a section for transporters to advertise their services at a low cost to their target market. For instance the transit lorries that transport inputs from the cities to the rural areas usually return to the city empty. Using the app they can post transport services available with information such as give their location, time for departure and the capacity they can carry. This will enable to the buyers/sellers to book them for transport. Likewise, informal transport sharing opportunities can be facilitated through the supporting platforms. The more informal transport opportunities will arise without cost through the app and the supporting platforms. Based on the feedback provided, we will consider transport more closely in the development of the app. Another way in which the app will facilitate transport is by providing the location of the seller, which means that the buyer can contact those sellers in their area that are more easily accessed. Informal transport arrangements may also be made where, for instance, a relative of the buyer picks up the produce as they pass by the seller’s location. Indirectly, the app will facilitate transport of product by improving social capital within the farming regions. Mediums that facilitate farmer networks and farmer-to-farmer sharing help build positive social capital. Research indicates that support from social networks improves access to transport and the amount of distance that can be traveled. BEYOND MARKET FRONTIERS: Mkulima Young began as a project focused in Kenya, but we received a large amount of interest and engagement in other East African countries. To respond to the needs of app users, we developed sections to accommodate those countries. Since allow app users to limit their searches to particular countries, we have noticed a large amount of posting originating from outside of Kenya but within the same region. In hindsight, it makes sense that Eastern African farmers would seek to engage with Mkulima Young’s platforms, as they experience the same, common issues as young Kenyan farmers in terms of market access. These market access issues include long supply chains, poor access to market information, small volumes of food of varying quality and inefficient markets. In addition, inter-border agricultural commodities’ trading is common among East African countries, and various institutions have sought to promote intra-regional trade in East Africa to promote food security and development, especially as Africa has low levels of intra-regional trade. Similar to expanding or interlinking other markets, increasing those who can use the app to include communities outside of Kenya improves the efficiency of the marketplace as more sellers and buyers can be connected. Further, encompassing broader communities allows farmers to expand into new markets. FARMERS & PHONES: The farming scenarios in the east African is changing and especially Kenya. This can be attested by the media attention given to agriculture with the main newspapers dedicating several pages in agriculture weekly. With the perforations of the mobile phones, younger tech savvy people now have access to the information about how to farm. One study illustrates that almost seven-in-ten Kenyans (68%) who own a cell phone and use it regularly to make or receive payments. Further, the subset of the population with phones and with the app does not exist in a vacuum. We’ve observed how they take on an informal external support officer role by sharing the information they have with their parents and others who do not have access to the app. From our experience, they tend to use the app on behalf of their parents or to tell the group or person not using the app about the market opportunity. These observations are reflective of the fact that ICT is recognized as a key way to promote social learning and market access opportunities. Accordingly, ICT interventions like our app make important contributions to agricultural productivity and sustainability, and mobile phones tend to be easily accessible to young people in Kenya. Also the app is integrated with website that can be accessed by ordinary phones. TRUST: Will have ratings on products and farmers profile. Also the admin moderates the postings. PRICING: Produce are posted at farm gate price by farmers BUSINESS MODEL: Developed as a social entrepreneur model solving a community need. Will encompass online advertisements and home deliveries of farm produce. DESIGN & BENEFICIARIES: Originally Mkulima Young was a Facebook page. Users demanded for a  website and app. Feedback such as ratings, having different countries and having the app in windows and IOS. To have a premium product where users can pay a fee for a specialized service.

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi Joseph,
Thanks so much for your detailed response! One last follow up - you mention you started as a Facebook page - how have your numbers transferred? Are there the same or more people using the app now?

Photo of Joseph Macharia
Team

The app has been in existence for less than a year compared to the Facebook page which has been in existence for 5 years. The numbers are not the same but the rate of adoption compared to the rate of growth of the FB page is almost the same. The limitations of the app is we are still developing and changing according to the users feedback compared to the Facebook which is already developed. The strength we have is the integration of the app, website and the social media. If a farmer post a product using the app it will appear in the website. Like wise if the post is made in the wesbsite it will appear in the app. We then amplify using the social media.

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