Bidco Africa has enlisted more than 600 farmers from Makueni County to supply sunflower seeds for edible oil production.
In a boost to the stakeholders, Safaricom, Bidco Africa and Makueni County Government have signed an MOU to support farmers in the county.
Bidco Africa contract farming
This comes as the consumer goods company is expanding its farmers’ base following last year’s announcement that it had a plan of contracting of 25,000 farmers to grow sunflower and soya beans.
The contract farming is meant to curb the shortage of the two commodities used in making oil.
John Kariuki, Bidco Africa’s head of agribusiness said last that, “the company will contract farmers, offer technical support and a ready market once the harvest is ready.”
Makueni sunflower farmers DigiFarm connection
The 640 sunflower farmers in Makueni County are set to benefit from a partnership between Safaricom’s DigiFarm, Bidco Africa and the area’s county government.
They are the first beneficiaries of an end to end buyer-driven model where Bidco Africa will provide a ready market for their produce which is used as raw materials in the processing of edible oils.
“We are glad that we are able to help farmers actualise their dreams through DigiFarm by providing an end to end process that will ensure that farming becomes a profitable venture that will eventually uplift their living standards. We hope to continue to engage more farmers with different crops so that we can help them reap maximum benefits,” Said Rita Okuthe, Chief Enterprise Officer, Safaricom.
Makueni is the first county to pilot the end to end value chain from registration of farmers to accessing a ready market.
DigiFarm credit facilities, farm inputs
DigiFarm provided technical support through quality fertiliser, seeds and access to credit and insurance to help increase productivity.
“Our aim is to ensure that all DigiFarm services are available throughout the county and we are also doing the same in other counties so that farmers can get access to information, credit facilities, farm inputs and any other necessary tools they may need to help them earn money from their produce,” said Okuthe.
So far, Makueni County has 34 DigiFarm depots where farmers can get inputs such as quality seeds and fertilisers.
The county also has the highest number of registered farmers on the platform with over 217,000 out of the close to 1 million farmers registered countrywide.
“The farmers now have a guaranteed market for their produce thereby eliminating the perennial problem of brokers who exploit farmers with poor prices. It is our hope that the partnership we have signed today will go a long way in motivating the small-scale farmers to become more self-reliant,” said Prof Kivutha Kibwana, Governor, Makueni County.
Digifarm was officially launched in Makueni in August 2018 at a trade fair at Nduluku Technical College.
DigiFarm discounted products, customized information
Since then 75 extension officers have been trained and equipped with mobile phones to help increase uptake.
DigiFarm is an integrated, free-to-use mobile platform that offers smallholder farmers access to a suite of information and financial services, including discounted products, customized information on farming best practices, and access to credit and other financial facilities.
So far, 118 DigiFarm depots have been opened across 11 counties where farmers can access high-quality inputs that can be purchased via M-Pesa or on credit payable within 30 to 90 days.
Smallholder farmers growing sunflower for Bidco Africa
Bidco Africa says that partnering with farmers is about empowering them since they form about 70 per cent of the population.
Sunflower can be planted for two seasons in one year which is unlike maize which takes the whole year.
This means that even if one season failed, there would be another meaning that the farmers do not lose their whole year’s investment.
In the first 4 months of 2018, Kenya’s horticulture earnings totalled Kshs 56.23bn up from Sh40.57bn in a similar period in 2017 according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KeBS).
You can also read about the fruit drying machine opening markets for over 500 Kenyan farmers.