A recent survey conducted by FCI shows that one million women farmers could save Kshs 504 Million (USD 5.9 Million) per year in transport costs to the market to obtain farm inputs while. This is through the Women Farmers in Agri e-Trade programme, an innovation designed by FCI with funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The programme aims at helping women smallholder farmers reduce time spent in accessing quality farm inputs, a priority of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at using technology to help farmers hone their business skills in order to save time.
Before the introduction of the program at Evurore Division of Mbeere North Sub-county, Julieta, one of the farmers who joined the programme, would travel all the way to Embu town, 50 km from her village to buy farm inputs since some of the products that she needed were not available at the local agro vets.
Through the program, Julieta learnt basic IT skills to access farm agro-inputs using her mobile phone, saving time and money. She went through the FCI-facilitated training on how to place orders and also make inquiries through her mobile phone. Since she became a registered member in the platform, Julieta is among the farmers who have ordered for inputs such as maize, mango fly traps and PICS bags. With a better sense of how to balance all the demands in her life, she continues to build on her strengths, operational excellence and passion for business. Julieta personifies this adage: always give a task to a busy person –they will manage to get it done.
Whenever Julieta would go to Embu, she would spend Kshs 240 (USD 2.64) on transport alone and additional costs during the trip. In the long-run, this affected her savings. It also meant that for almost half a day or sometimes the whole day she could not engage in other activities as much time was spent during the travelling to and from Embu.
Following a training held on how to place orders using the system during a session that was conducted for 103 farmers from Kiambindu CV, where she is a member, Julieta was enthused to embrace this technology. She now uses the time saved to carry out other productive activities. Now, she does not have to incur transport, refreshments, and any other unbudgeted costs. The fact that the inputs are delivered to her has helped her save on labour too.
She commends FCI for introducing this new technology and encourages other farmers to embrace it. This is because she is also guaranteed of quality products unlike previously where at times she would unknowingly buy counterfeit products. Due to the supply of quality products to farmers like Julieta, farmers are guaranteed high productivity of crops and also improved quality that will attract better markets. Julieta was also trained on how to sell her produce using the Women Farmers in Agri e-trade platform and as a result, she is not concerned about a lack of market as she will sell her produce through the system once it is ready. Therefore, the program ensures that generations will be transformed towards a better future.
FCI VISION : To have commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond