Smallholder farmers possess extensive traditional knowledge on running agricultural enterprises, most of which is passed down from generation to generation. Nevertheless, this indigenous knowledge is not always sufficient to overcome modern challenges. In partnership with Batian Nuts Ltd, a groundnuts partnership in Kenya, and Kuza Biashara, an award-winning social technology enterprise, 2SCALE is changing this by supporting the adoption of technology-driven innovations.
The Batian Nuts-2SCALE partnership supports smallholder farmers in Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties in Kenya to produce quality, aflatoxin-free groundnuts that are processed into affordable fortified products for low-income consumers. In collaboration with Kuza, this partnership engaged 10 youths as agripreneurs in a pilot of the Kuza platform. The objective of the pilot was to demonstrate how digital innovations can address the information needs of smallholder farmers and agribusiness SMEs while creating opportunities for the youth to generate income by actively participating in agricultural value chains.
For 2SCALE, the establishment and development of agricultural innovations are centered around inclusive business champions. Batian Nuts identified that there was a challenge in training smallholder farmers on good practices to produce aflatoxin-free groundnuts and creation of linkages with important value chain actors. Kuza thus sought an agripreneur model that utilizes digital devices and a cloud platform. This model assists rural agents to engage farmers and earn a decent income by facilitating access to quality inputs, mechanization services, aggregation services, and creating market linkages. The project onboarded 10 youths who have in the first nine months of the pilot recruited and profiled more than 1,850 farmers.
Mr. Karanja, the Managing Director at Batian, explains how the Kuza innovation is solving challenges that the company faces while working with smallholder farmers:
The agripreneur model introduced by Kuza allows our company to reach many farmers conveniently and affordably, compared to our traditional face-to-face classroom-style approach. In addition, the farmer profiling capability of the Kuza One platform provides us with a solid database of smallholder farmers who we can onboard into our groundnut out-grower scheme. We are happy that we can get more farmers to plant groundnuts while at the same time utilizing the energy of young people in the project.
Ms. Bharathi Bharatam, a Program Manager at Kuza Biashara describes the Kuza One platform as an artificial intelligence-driven platform focused on creating connectivity in the most remote areas to enable data-driven decision making. Village level agents -agripreneurs- are equipped with a digital tool kit loaded with up-to-date agricultural information to enable the provision of advisory services to small-holders farmers in remote areas. At the same time, the platform enables the procurement of quality inputs, mechanization services, credit, and market linkages.
The agripreneur model in Kuza Biashara is more like a business in a backpack. Equipped with a wi-fi router, tablet, and portable projector, the agripreneurs offer services at the most convenient time for them and the farmer! The agripreneur acts as an intermediary between input providers, relevant stakeholders, and smallholder farmers - who have limited or no access to the internet. He/she provides smallholder farmers with information on agricultural processes, access to finance, and markets to help them increase their income. It provides an opportunity for the farmers to have someone consolidate all their demands at the comfort of their farms. In this case, there is even a bigger motivation because the farmer is assured that after producing quality nuts, competitive practices are guaranteed from Batian Nuts Ltd.