A new technology, dubbed “AFMA-X” (African Farms & Markets Network) has been launched to facilitate smallholder farmers’ link with traders for the sale and marketing of their produce and agricultural inputs.
The platform is an innovation of Farm Concern International (FCI), an Africa-wide market development agency whose focus is smallholder commercialization. FCI develops modern marketing concepts and builds business relationships through strategic alliances to enhance competiveness in the market place, economic growth, sustainability and profitability of farming enterprises in various countries of Africa.
While launching the platform at Kabunge Commercial village in Limuru, Kiambu County, Mr. Benson Wando, the Agri-Business Development Manager of FCI encouraged farmers to utilize the platform since it is cheap and user friendly. “The technology involved is as simple as sending money via a mobile phone,” he said. “First, the user needs to register by dialing *384*6# and then follow a series of simplified steps,” he added.
The function was attended by 89 farmers and over 20 traders who learnt how to sell and purchase farm produce through AFMA-X.
AFMA-X is a non-profit making commodity exchange platform meant to facilitate traders and farmers acquire goods and services needed quickly, efficiently and cheaply. The platform facilitates the users to advertise, sell, order and pay online for their produce and related agro-inputs by use of a mobile phone.
AFMA-X, also described as one stop commodity exchange platform, is tailored to inform users’ on how to access and use finances, best buying practices, selling and how to optimise yield at the farm level.
The platform will also facilitate market creation within the various activity hubs in sub-Saharan Africa, link supply and demand and maximise opportunities for supporting farming infrastructure. Research will also be enhanced to provide real time information on key economic and social trends which forecast and determine agricultural production among the smallholder farmers.
The platform is advantageous to the smallholder farmer since it enables her save time and reduces the cost involved in transport of farm produce especially when collective purchase and selling is done through the Commercial Villages.
“We appreciate Farm Concern International for introducing this service to us,” said James King’ang’i, a trader in Limuru market. “It is cheap, efficient and time saving in doing business as compared to roaming around looking for a farmer with produce to sell,” he added.
The platform is also reliable and convenient since the user can receive goods at the comfort of his home where transport is provided by the supplier. “The bouncing rate of AFMA-X technology is zero percent,” said one of FCI’s Software development Manager, Mr. Elijah Mwangi. “The ability to use AFMA-X platform cuts across all age brackets apart from those with 70 years of age where Commercial Village Facilitators (CVFs) have to offer some assistance,” he added.
Mwangi added that some training forums encompassing smallholder farmers and traders have been held in Meru, Kieni, Mbeere and Kiambu Counties to popularize the application. Some measures are also underway to popularize and facilitate the use of AFMA-X platform in Africa and beyond.
FCI’s continuous active participation with the smallholder farmers provides avenues for enhancing their lives and competitiveness at the market place. To be responsive to the real market world, FCI has developed Business Models that are designed to provide guidance to the various programmes and sustainable market led development platforms.
FCI envisions commercialized African households with increased incomes for improved, stabilized and sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond. FCI has gradually and organically developed to be a leading market development agency and implements its work through pursuing the Organizational Vision and Mission.
FCI VISION : To have commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond