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Middlemen hurting farmers’ access to markets

By Alex Wachira
Potato farmers Paul Nabu Gikuni (left) and Stephen Wanyoike with an extended sack of potatoes at Soko Mjinga market along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway. (Nanjinia Wamuswa, Standard)

 

After a good yield, a farmer who is not well connected in selling their produce may seek help from a middleman or broker.

The middlemen act as a link between the farmer and the city vendors.

Farmers incur heavy losses when a product is in surplus in the market. Brokers buy their produce at lower prices, making them record losses.

Speaking to Mt Kenya Star, middleman Dedan Mungai said brokers provide feedback to the producers about the market for free. This influences the number of acreage farmers put under cultivation in a given season.

“The middlemen know the farmers better than the agricultural officers who hardly move across the counties. We share vital information with the farmers at no cost. Sometimes we inform them to either increase or decrease the acreage depending on what we have seen in the market,” he said in Lanet.

Mungai added that they play a crucial role across the supply chain and pay farmers immediately, compared to the government.

Brokers argue that they get their goods to the market, despite the poor state of road networks in most parts of the country.

“At times we get stuck for days and the perishable goods go to waste, forcing us to incur huge losses that are never compensated,” Mungai added.

Meanwhile, innovation has led to apps for food supply such as Twiga Foods that buys and delivers farmers’ produce to medium-sized vendors, often in cities.

The app 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.  

The app has changed how farmers sell their produce to the market and can practice farming as an economic activity with good returns.

The farmer can log on the app and notify the company when their produce is ready for harvesting.

 

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