M-Farm is a startup which connects and empowers agriculture farmers with financial information. There are three reasons why we are showcasing them.
- Firstly, we’re not focusing only on web technologies during our world tour of innovation. We’ve tried to showcase stories about universities in the UK and healthcare in Iran to cover a diverse array of exciting innovations.
- Secondly, we’re in Kenya, a country with a fondness for technology. That M-Farm address a pressing local need with such ingenuity is a plus point.
- Last but not least, it’s the magic of iHub, the community tech space of Nairobi, to be able to chat with a plethora of entrepreneurs.
M-Farm serves Kenya’s pressing need: More efficient agriculture
Agriculture presents both a problem and a huge opportunity for Africa. To win the fight against malnourishment, African countries must be able to sell produce at the right price (especially when they compete against subsidized economies such as Europe of the US) and improve their efficiency.
The African Union had its members pledge to allocate 10% of their budget to agriculture. In several countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Mali, Niger and Senegal) this target has been reached and even exceeded. But in Kenya, a mere 5% is allocated even though 30% of kids under 5 are still malnourished.
How M-Farm Works
M-Farm connects small-scale farmers in Kenya (STAT) to the price of crops in real-time. The app, accessible through SMS (as is MPesa), consists of two features:
- Price info: it gives information on the prices of 47 products such as peas, sugar snaps, avocado, passion fruit, peanuts, potatoes, cassava and mango sin in 5 markets (Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Kitale)
- Group selling: an advanced feature, which allows an agent to aggregate demand and supply of Central Kenya Farmers
MFarm is connected to Mpesa, Kenya’s mobile money system, which allows unbanked farmers to manage their revenues easily (connecting a bank account is also possible).
MFarm’s value proposition is to decrease the influence of intermediaries (middlemen) who take a significant cut. Thanks to MFarm, farmers have been able to double their sales, on which the startup takes a fee. They now have around 3 000 users on the web and 6 000 on mobile through SMS.