App aims to save food, end hunger
By linking farmers to food processing companies and consumers, Martha Akinyi and Elvin Adika want to reduce food wastage.
Milliam Murigi @millymur1
Finding market for agricultural produce is a challenge for many farmers. Majority of them only sell on the rotational market days, missing out on the bigger customer base.
Food loss stems from lack of real-time communication and visibility across the highly-fragmented food supply chain, poor infrastructure, high and volatile cost of transport, overproduction, premature harvesting, poor storage and consumer waste.
According to the United Nations (UN), at least one third of the food produced annually for human consumption (1.3 billion tonnes) gets lost or wasted.
If this loss is reduced by just one fourth, there will be enough left over to feed about 870 million people worldwide.
To help farmers market their produce easily and tap into this customer base, Martha Akinyi and Elvin Adika, have come up with an online platform (android and web application) that will connect farmers directly to consumers and food processing industries. Its mission is to save food and end hunger.
Micro credit facility
Dubbed Okoa Foods, the application offers a marketplace for agricultural products. It connects crop farmers, livestock producers, small farm produce retailers and fisher folk to consumers.
Apart from that it also offers predictive weather and climate analytics and accurate agricultural advice for farmers.
“Okoa Foods connect farmers directly to the local consumer market. This gives independent farmers and cooperatives the ability to sell their farm produce easily as well as enabling buyers to contact farmers easily even when they do not have cash in hand,” says Martha, the Managing Director of Okoa Foods.
According to her, the platform also offers interest free micro credit facility for food suppliers (pre-harvest and input financing via network of participating vendors), food producers’ loyalty programme with regional and international perks powered by consumer rating, an online auction, halal certification services, share a fridge campaign where consumers and food suppliers can donate to food insecure households or institutions that serve the needy, and a solar storage facilities located within the consumer market areas.
Launched last year in August, the enterprise has so far connected more than 50 farmers and 30 food processors to a direct market.
In addition, it has provided two permanent employment opportunities. It is set to launch on Google Play Store where it will be available for download and installation.
“With post-harvest losses arising from inadequate market access by most farmers, we believe that this innovation is timely. It will help farmers sell all their produce with none going to waste,” says Akinyi
The platform not only gives farmers the opportunity to sell their produce, it also helps them get accurate and consistent weather updates for the present and future.
Farmers also have an opportunity to be advised on crops to plant, timing, required procedures for farming and how to combat crop pests.
On top of that, farmers are also advised on the period for harvesting and how to do it safely, to gain maximum yield.
“The application offers farmers better and accurate predictive farming information depending on their various locations by providing proper soil, crop and micro-climate data through a farmer portal that also keeps track of their farming activities.”
Another unique feature of the app is the profiling feature which helps to identify the type of produce farmers in a specific location will have in a given season and their anticipated harvest period, which guides the out takers to link them to.
As a bonus, the platform also provides a forum for one to ask questions related to their farming practices.
“By using the app, food producers are guaranteed fair and immediate compensation, robust production and sales data, safe and professional packaging as well as efficient logistic services.”
On the other hand, consumer will benefit from purchase of good quality produce- safe for human consumption, subscription to flexible weekly service, auction and have a say in the quality of food they purchase.
The app has been developed in collaboration with Techtenant under guidance and mentorship from Hugh Weldon of Evocco .
Besides business and tech training, the app developers have expertise in participatory financing and has via the Islamic Fintech Hub of Sub Saharan Africa forged Halal certification partnership with LPPOM MUI of Indonesia and Fintech Galaxy of UAE potentially opening up the international market for its food producers which set them apart from the average entrepreneur.
The duo has participated in IbizAfrica/ Standard Chartered Women in Tech Incubator programme, Covid hInnovation Challenge Hackathon and its proof of concept funding was provided by Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC) incubation programme under AgriBiz.
By leveraging on KCIC’s partner networks, Martha says her enterprise has been able to generate a rapid business growth path, creating an enabling environment for Okoa Foods Ltd to launch successfully.
“We are honored to share the Okoa Food journey with Kenya and consequently the rest of Africa,” she says.