Kenyan Farmers Tap Into Apps to Work Smarter

DigiFarm, a free service from telecoms giant Safaricom, was launched in 2017 - but the bulk of its current 1.4 million users signed up after the pandemic hit, said Elizabeth Mudogo, customer experience lead at DigiFarm. After ordering through the app, farmers receive SMS notifications when their goods are ready for collection at a local depot - the company has nearly 30 in Bomet alone - and they can obtain store credit and be eligible for discounts.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Kenyan company Twiga Foods has seen a jump in the number of farmers using its digital platform Soko Yetu (Our Market) to reach customers without going through expensive brokers. According to the firm's Chief Technology Officer, Caine Wanjau, Twiga, which launched in 2014, "harvests and buys produce from its member farms, then takes the goods to collection centres for processing and packaging."

A report by consultancy McKinsey indicates that farmers across sub-Saharan Africa are using more than 400 apps and digital platforms for everything from accessing financial services and planting advice to supply-chain management.

According to Kenya government figures, there are about 4.5 million small-scale farmers in Kenya and their collective output accounts for more than 60% of the country's food, writes Wesley Langat for Thomson Reuters Foundation. 

Ann Waithera orders new produce through the Twiga mobile app for her general store on the outskirts of Nairobi.

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