Getting Crops to Market
Maize is the backbone of agriculture in Kenya, but it is not always a simple market. Factors like weather patterns, increased maize imports, and fluctuations in the local markets can leave farmers asking the question, "Where am I am going to market my maize?" Maize in Kenya is grown mostly during what is considered the "long rains" season (January to October). This leaves land either fallow (left alone, unplanted) the second half of the year, or planted with other horticultural crops like tomatoes or French beans.
AMPATH has worked in partnership with Cargill and the World Food Program (WFP) to ensure that there are markets for the farmers to sell their maize at a fair price. Those partners are creating a positive impact, but there is still a need to diversify crops, strengthen value chains, and engage in contract farming where available. There is much more to successful farming than just sowing and harvesting.
The last week of August, farmer leaders from about twenty groups signed an agreement with Bidco Africa, a company in Kenya that makes consumer goods. The farmers will become contract farmers and produce soybeans and sunflowers Bidco needs to produce cooking oils.
What is contract farming? Simply put, contract farming is an agreement between a buyer and farmers that the buyer will purchase an agreed-upon quantity of a crop from the farmers as long as it meets the defined quality standards. These agreements are advantageous for farmers because they set prices, so farmers know how much income they can expect from their crop before they plant. Secondly, these agreements ensure a market for the farmers' products. This is extraordinarily important for farmers as it means they do not have to spend time finding markets for their product, which markets are often subject to a wide range of price fluctuations, depending on the crop.
This is an exciting time for farmers as contract farming is offering an opportunity for a second season crop with a guaranteed market! Corteva representatives have been working in partnership with AMPATH to enable this opportunity for farmers since late spring and everyone is very excited for the prospects of this contract with Bidco.
Stay tuned to see how the crops are coming along and watch out for a harvest update later this fall.