In Nairobi, Kenya, an online platform has been launched to connect farmers to grain buyers. The Kenyan based IT firm Virtual City–in partnership with the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) and the Food Trade Eastern and Southern Africa Organization–developed this platform named G-Soko.
This online platform is designed to enable small farms in East Africa to sell their produce at favorable prices. As for millers, the G-Soko system is intended to guarantee the availability of quality stocks. These stocks are standardized and proven grading which reduces the need to carry out sampling to check quality, saving time and money for both parties.
The EAGC is partnering with the Secretariat to implement the East African Community (EAC) Food Security Action Plan, which is the EAC strategy to achieve food security in the region.
The executive director of EAGC, Gerald Masila, spoke at the launch of the platform. He “disclosed that G-Soko was part of a five-year trade enhancement and promotion programme in the region. [Because] linking rural food production zones in East Africa to urban consumption centres requires a well functioning regional market and that by adhering to the system, farmers in the region will, among others, be able to access credit while waiting for prices to increase through pledging the electronic warehouse receipt with the banks and agro-dealers.”
This aspect is especially beneficial to farmers because usually, once they are ready to sell a crop, they have to accept the going price that day. But with this platform, they are able to wait until prices are favorable and still access credit through their banks. Farmers are able to get more bank for their crop.
With this platform, farmers also benefit from reduced post-harvest losses through access to professional storage, cleaning and drying. Another plus is the improved prices offered through G-Soko, since many of them rely on farm-gate prices that deliver cash at lower prices.
G-Soko is an attractive platform to farmers because the “EAC continued support in automating agricultural crops trading systems and processes to reduce commercialisation cost and all related challenges and bridge the gap between farmers, traders, and consumers for increased food security in the region.”
The G-Soko is now operational in two of the EAC partner states, Uganda and Kenya. There are arrangements underway to extend the system to Tanzania and Rwanda before the Grains Farmers Summit in early October 2015.
The platform G-Soko is changing how farmers are able to sell their crops for the better. Not only are farmers able to sell their crops for the most favorable prices, but they have access to modern facilities for cleaning and storage.
This platform is making more money for local farmers rather than the large, commercialized farms. Not only is this platform helping local farmers, but it is also ensuring food security for the region.
– Kerri Szulak