Kenyan farmers will soon have their own market selling directly to consumers, cutting off the traditional value chain that is replete with middlemen.
The Nairobi Farmers Market, which is under construction in the upmarket Runda Estate, off Kiambu Road, will contain 45 stalls exclusively operated by farmers.
This borrows from international practice where most cities have farmers markets that supply produce direct from the farms to the consumers.
Produce traceability and guarantee
While some provide temporary selling space for different farmers on a day-to-day basis, others lease out permanent shops that are operated by individual farmers who take the space on a long-term basis.
“We are essentially addressing the contradiction where farm-gate prices for cabbages, for example, are less than Kshs10 a piece but the consumer pays Kshs60. In-between numerous traders, brokers and county levy collectors eat the sweat from the farmer and the savings from the consumer. We are creating a facility that will be a big help for both the farmer and the consumer,” says Munene Mashine, the Project Manager.
He says the other concern the market will address will be traceability of produce and guarantee of good agricultural practices.
Questions have been asked about some of the fresh produce sold in Kenya, with suspicions that some of it is grown with sewage and other polluted water.
The proposed market, which is expected to open in July, will contain sections for fresh produce, Beef, fish and poultry products, dairy produce and a grains section.
Supplying institutional customers
The market developers say they will encourage stall owners to contract and supervise small-scale growers to ensure sufficient supplies within the set quality guidelines while also spreading the benefits of the market to more farmers.
By aggregating produce from the many farmers in the market, they hope to create a secondary outlet for supplying institutional customers such as hotels, restaurants, schools and hospitals.
This will ensure and an expansive market potential that can provide an outlet for thousands of farmers.
“We will encourage shop owners to sign up out growers across the country, and even to work with County Governments where necessary. This way we can create an efficient road to market for the exceptional pineapple growers of Homa Bay, the sweet potato farmers in Kakamega and the honey producers in Baringo and elsewhere. We are creating a platform that offers guarantees at both the supply and demand side of the equation and hopefully, we can provide some stability for everyone,” says Mashine.
Home deliveries campaign
Globally, farmers’ markets usually include an eating out section where freshly-prepared dishes are served.
The markets, such as the Borough Market in London, La Boqueria in Barcelona and the Shongweni Farmers Market in South Africa, are top tourist attractions as they provide a good perspective of what the country has to offer.
The Nairobi market will also have a restaurant and since this is Kenya, a nyama choma outlet. Some farmers will be selling produce that has gone through some basic primary processing.
The developers say they want the market to be “fun for the shoppers because even though price advantage is important, it is not the only thing that matters to the modern shopper.”
The market is being developed by a local investor, United Agromarts Limited.
In order to also be in tune with modern shopping trends, the market plans to launch an aggressive home deliveries campaign driven through the Nairobi Farmers Market App.
“It will be a blend between the Uber and the Jumia technologies – you do your shopping online, and we are able to find where you are using the Google Maps facility. We will launch this as soon as the market opens,” says Mashine.
Popular markets in Kenya
There is the Organic Farmers Market which was started in 2010 with about 10 farmers.
It first opened at The Talisman in Karen but it is now hosted on Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm at Marula Studios, 40 Marula Lane in Karen.
The market welcomes certified organic farmers offering farm fresh organic produce and various healthy food businesses.
Other markets include Kariokor and Maasai Markets which deal with curios, unique-African jewellery, décor items and fabric, Toi and Gikomba Markets which are flea markets.
For foodstuff, Muthurwa, Ngara Market and City Market in Nairobi are some of those that have a big variety to choose from.
However, these markets remain decrepit making it difficult to shop especially during the rainy seasons.