WEBINAR: Using technology to overcome challenges for farmers in value chains

WEBINAR: Using technology to overcome challenges for farmers in value chains

27 May 2020. IIED blogpost related to their 24 March 2020 webinar. In this webinar hosted by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) the panel discussed experiences of linking smallholder farmers to targeted services and buyers and to strengthen their position with other actors.

They considered questions of interest to practitioners working on similar issues in different contexts such as:​ 
  1. How can the platform best support farmers in their relationships with other actors?​ 
  2. What conditions need to be in place for the platform to work?​ 
  3. What challenges are likely to arise, and how can they be addressed?​ 
  4. What top tips are there for adapting the platform to other contexts (commodities, supply chains, geographies)?

Speakers:

  1. Stephen Muchiri, executive director of EAFF and CEO of e-Granary; 

    e-Granary is an online platform led by farmers via the EAFF that links all relevant actors in the value chain. It helps farmers strengthen their position by allowing them to jointly negotiate with buyers, finance and input providers, and access key services.

    For instance, EAFF negotiates supply contracts with buyers covering issues such as price, quantities and so on. e-Granary passes on the outcome of negotiations to farmers’ groups, who in turn provide feedback, which e-Granary incorporates and presents to the partners. Before the season starts, e-Granary carries out an assessment of past performances jointly with farmer leaders and other partners which informs future negotiations.

  2. Caroline Kariuki, project manager at VisionFund Kenya (VFK), a micro-finance institution
    e-Granary negotiated with VisionFund Kenya’s (VFK) for lower interest rates and collateral requirements based on farm output. Farmers have been able to produce bigger quantities and increase their revenues as a result. 
  3. Daniel Nyagah, a farmer and user of e-Granary in Kenya
    e-Granary  assists farmers by providing credit, input and, importantly, training, and how they have managed to increase production.
  4. Giles Lewis, a grain and oilseed trader at Export Trading Group (ETG)
    ETG had set up a contract with e-Granary to provide fertiliser and purchase farmers’ produce at a minimum guaranteed price every season. For ETG this means better quality products and no need to negotiate with multiple producers – as would have been the case otherwise. 

The webinar focused on the e-Granary platform. Inspired by a similar project in India, this platform is an ambitious initiative from the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF), a non-political, not-for-profit umbrella network of smallholder family farmers from across the region.

The platform is operating in collaboration with Export Trading Group (ETG), a leading integrated agricultural supply chain group, and VisionFund Kenya (VFK), a micro-finance institution that believes in brighter futures for children, empowering families to create incomes and jobs and unlocking economic potential for communities to thrive. Launched in 2016, e-Granary is currently serving about 240,000 farmers in Kenya, 15,000 in Uganda and about 5,000 in Rwanda.

The webinar was part of IIED’s Empowering Producers in Commercial agriculture (EPIC) initiative, funded by UK Aid from the UK government through its Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness (CASA) programme. CASA seeks to increase economic opportunities for smallholders by demonstrating the commercial viability of businesses with significant smallholder supply chains and by attracting more investment into the sector.

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