By Bett Kipsang'
Mr. Peter Maina Mwaniki,a farmer in Sipili division Laikipia County has a reason to smile after Sokopepe enabled him sell his Lima beans at a higher profit.
Mr. Mwaniki, a retired teacher is an energetic farmer who is always enthusiastic to learn new skills; his desire for new knowledge led him to use Ng’arua Maarifa Centre which champions a market portal called Sokopepe- an online and SMS based platforms that provide market prices information to farmers and links farmers with buyers.
‘Last year I decided to do a market research on Lima beans, I checked at a local market selling price per kilogram and it was selling at KES 60 (USD 0.7) which I felt was very low compared to the expenses I incurred during farming. I traveled 60km away to Nyahururu to check the selling price and I found out the price per kilogram was KES 80(USD 0.9). I remembered Sokopepe and decided to visit Ngarua Maarifa centre where I took sample of Lima beans so that a photo could be taken for uploading on the Sokopepe marketing portal. I send an SMS TO 20245 and checked for prices of Lima beans in Nairobi and saw it was selling at KES 150 (USD 1.8) per kilogram. With the support of the field officer at Ngarua Maarifa centre the produce was uploaded with a price tag of KES 150(USD 1.8) per kilogram.A buyer from Nairobi visited the Sokopepe site and spotted the product displayed for sale and placed an order for 5kgs of Lima beans. The produce was delivered to the buyer and I was paid KES 150 (USD 1.8) per kilogram up from the KES60(USD 0.7)per kilogram offered at the local market. After three weeks again a buyer from Mombasa placed another order, the produce was delivered and I was paid. I have never been to Mombasa but my Lima beans have! The use of mobile phones to get market prices is a blessing to us as farmers. I am now able to query market prices in major towns at the comfort of my home using my mobile phone, ’says Mr. Mwaniki.
Farmers are facing a lot of challenges in marketing of their produce.They have always been exploited by middle men who buy their produce at very low prices since the farmers have no access to market prices.However with the introduction of Sokopepe, farmers can query prices in major towns in Kenya and make an informed decision on where to sell and at what price thus have a bargaining power. Additionally Sokopepe provides other services like access to input suppliers, extension services and a pool of information on both crop farming and livestock.
Mwaniki has seven acres of land; he cultivates only four acres. He also has a fruits orchard next to his home. He does poultry rearing, dairy farming and growing of maize and other cereals crops like grain Amaranth, Lima Beans and Dolichos. He is a member of Ng’arua focal group, where he has received lots of information and capacity building on farming.Mr. Mwaniki is also a member of two farmer groups; Umoja Wendani and Gazina self-help groups. In these groups, Mr. Mwaniki has encouraged members to register on Sokopepe and use its services since he has seen the benefits.
Mr. Mwaniki can be reached at +254725152750