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M-Farm: Connecting Small Holder Farmers to Markets Efficiently, through Trusted Information and Business Intelligence Tools

Farmers know what to plant when, for what market, in demanded quantities and quality through advisory and market data from trusted sources.

Photo of Linda Kwamboka

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Many Kenyan farmers face varied and plenty of information about agribusiness either from input suppliers, agrovets, traders, middlemen, extension service workers, Aid providers and the list goes on. It then becomes confusing and farmers have to spend time figuring out what information they can trust in order to grow their agribusiness. Therefore, working with uncertainty or unawarness of what the market actually wants, the right trading price of commodities and the proper production guidance to maximize their yield and produce safe food, farmers face losses and they do not enjoy their profits to the maximum. Farmers are unaware of the demand available, therefore end up producing by chance and at the same time creating glut, low prices and waste. Coupled with lack of record keeping, farmers are not able to grow their estate or agribusinesses due to these repeated shortfalls caused by not having a trusted source of proven information to refer to, making them a risky enterprise to invest in, by Financial institutions.

WHO BENEFITS?

Small holder farmers who have simple phones and feature phones. Women Farmers who have little time in their day to walk to knowledge centers to advance and broaden agribusiness know how. The youth who have access to smartphones and internet services. They will be encouraged to invest in agribusiness trusted information on production according to market demand.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

Kenya

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!

MFarm, is a mobile and web-based market information system in Kenya that enables farmers to collectively sell their produce.  Mercy Corps Agrifin Accelerate is a program implemented and supported by MasterCard Foundation to increase access to digital financial and informational services

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

M-Farm's strength has been the provision of relevant information between buyers and farmers to ensure efficient transactions. Our service offering has expanding to Business Intelligence tools that makes it even easier for farmers to make agribusiness decisions on time to invest, what to plant and how to price their commodities. This improved step in information exchange for farmers creates trust in the supply chain and reduces food wastage. Farmers are able to manage their production information better through our location based extension platform, exchange vital proven information within a community of farmers and experts in order to improve production according to demand and allowing farmers to sell through collective action.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

Handling actionable information flow at every key nodes of agribusiness value chains from production to transaction and post-transaction is a more rounded approach which benefits the small scale farmers and buyers at greater lengths.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

A well balanced composite team from M-Farm and MercyCorps AgriFin team. MFarm, is a mobile and web-based market information system in Kenya that allows farmers to collectively sell their produce. Mercy Corps Agrifin Accelerate is a program being supported by the MasterCard Foundation and aims to increase access to digital financial and informational services for one million farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia over the next six years.

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

There was greater confirmation of reasons as to why farmers are risk averse in their trade and we were able to add to our list critical information points that would help farmers reduce their risk, have more confidence in investing in agribusiness in order to achieve market standards produce. We worked with an assumption that farmers do not want to share information such as available market, good agricultural practices, produce pricing and other information. The feedback stage helped us dissect through the feedback where we identified that, what the farmers need is a structure to be able to share such information with confidence while seeing the value they derive from sharing it.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

Key supply chain information has proven to be important to agribusiness stakeholders, but how will we improve its exchanged to make is easier for the users? Farmers have shown great interest in various information, will they take action to improve their agribusiness using this information? What is the right time and who is the right farmer to give what kind of information to? What is the best delivery method of certain structured information to farmers?

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

MFarm provides a 360º approach to farmer's livelihood. No solutions has used this holistic approach as presented by MFarm, where critical nodes of the value chain are addressed with key actionable information exchange to help the farmer run her agribusiness efficiently. Actionable information is available from; identifying the profitable value chain to invest in, to proper and efficient production, and finally, to trading their farm produce.

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

Proven Information exchange is vital to make sure that farmers and buyers run their agribusinesses to sustainability with continuous growth. Good quality and actionable information will build trust. A trusted network and platform will result to successful farm produce transactions. This success will allow other supply chain stakeholders such as farm input providers, transportation companies, soil experts will be able to plug onto the platform to help farmers access better services.

MEMBERS OF MY TEAM HAVE BEEN WORKING TOGETHER FOR:

  • Less than 6 months
  • More than a year

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • 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

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • Under $100,000

MFarm was established 5 years ago with an aim of making the agribusiness value chains more efficient by connecting smallholder farmers with each other in a virtual cooperative to combine their produce to satisfy the high volumes required by formal markets.

The platform also allows farmers to discover what their crops are worth as well and enables SHF plan to grow what the market needs at the right time to benefit from best pricing and avoid losses by producing what the market is demanding.

Our social, data driven and location based extension service features allows farmers to get tailored advice through their mobile phones and learn best agricultural practices from experts and fellow farmers especially on practically proven methods. Farmers get an opportunity to understand market wants and what the price trends have been over time. This help them farmers avoid production at the same time creating glut, low prices and waste.

14 comments

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Photo of Waithaka mukira
Team

This is terrific
As a farmer in Nyandarua your service can add a lot of value to me and my neighbours.

Keep it up!

Photo of Linda Kwamboka
Team

Hi Waithaka,

Thank you. I will keep in touch, and kindly watch out for new exciting features on M-Farm coming soon

Photo of William Lanier
Team

Hello Waithaka mukira,
William (NeverIdle) hopes you are doing well and wish to invite you to the "1st All African Postharvest Congress and Exhibition (March 28 - 31) Nairobi"
<http://africa-postharvestconference.uonbi.ac.ke/>. We hope to meet and discuss more about Moisture meters and testing to Reverse Grain Postharvest Loss."
Regards,
William

Photo of William Lanier
Team

 To help the shortlisted ideas become the best that they can be I am interested to know...
"When will production packages that promote mobile and web-based market information systems publish aflatoxin levels beside grain prices so donors can evaluate the net benefit of plastic storage, Esoko sms, Hello tractor inputs for example?" 

Production inputs like sms advice lack meaning if calories means Postharvest loss and eating mycotoxins.

William
NeverIdle grain storage

Photo of William Lanier
Team

Hello Linda,
Please review the science of crop diseases. Crop disease must be prevented not cured. Diseases are not insect or weeds or weather events. 
I read that information flows need no real solution to aflatoxin because they can warning buyers of alternative sources and evade liability, either moral or legal. 
Until information flows recommend a solution that stops aflatoxin so called "boosts" lack meaning to growers who have applied information bandages recommended by remote elite sources.
My question remains "When will information flows like M-Farms publish prices and related levels of aflatoxin so donors can accurately evaluate the net benefit of information flows to growers".
William

Photo of Linda Kwamboka
Team

Hi William,

In the first paragraph I have pointed out that trusted information flow and sharing is key, which will be used to prevent contamination such as aflatoxin I quote: "First, there is proper handling of production, then right husbandry, crop protection and disease control, followed by the right time to harvest, followed by proper post-harvest handling." proven information among farmers (peer to peer learning) and experts can help with the prevention.

Both Buyers and farmers are our users and clients, therefore, buyers need to trust information provided on the platform, including where to source for safe food for consumption. That way they keep coming back and all farmers trading through M-Farm benefit.

If you have ideas on solutions to your question, I am glad to listen-read, and see how we may collaborate to help.

Linda

Photo of William Lanier
Team

Hello Linda,
The topics in the first paragraph lack meaning until grain Postharvest loss, especially aflatoxin is absent from the food supply. In other words the research I read suggests the flow of information is not stopping aflatoxin. And that m-Farm quality control is after the fact could mean the long run benefits are be small if the cost of PHL like aflatoxin is factored in.
Did you have time to follow my profile to basic grain Postharvest loss solutions? A more detailed explanation "Storage Rights to Reverse Postharvest loss" is posted at Linkedin.
William 

Photo of William Lanier
Team

Hello Linda Kwamboka,
William (NeverIdle) hopes you are doing well and wish to invite you to the "1st All African Postharvest Congress and Exhibition (March 28 - 31) Nairobi"
<http://africa-postharvestconference.uonbi.ac.ke/>. We hope to meet and discuss more about Moisture meters and testing to Reverse Grain Postharvest Loss."
Regards,
William

Photo of Kyalo Justus
Team

Great post Linda. Smart farming is really key in managing our country's resource better.

Photo of Linda Kwamboka
Team

and contribute to food security by reducing losses. Thanks!

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi linda,

great idea -  Knowledge given to farmers will be key - it help to get approval and work to good partnership - looking at local government might be another option

Photo of Linda Kwamboka
Team

Hallo Rohan,

Thank you for your contribution. True, government/private sector partnership is a great direction to take, especially when you consider how great such data will help the government make decisions toward food security and how best to serve its farmers when there are crises such as epidemics. Any ideas on how to communicate such value propositions are welcome. Again, thank you. 

Photo of Dr Simon M Holland
Team

Linda, look to your idea, seems very interesting.

Great going, mat we have to look how to collaborate, as this compliment to what we are doing. 

Best
Simon.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Linda, interesting post! Any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.