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Daraja links farmers to land of opportunities

A mobile based supply chain platform is connecting small-holder farmers to fruit and vegetable vendors offfering them a guaranteed market

Barry Silah @ obel_barry

Allan Juma is convinced beyond doubt that mobile money is the answer to today’s financial challenges.

The Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology alumnus is the brain behind Twiga Foods Internal Payment System, Daraja.

The platform, which runs on the mobile money transfer service, Mpesa, is used for payment of services to vendors and farmers directly into their mobile wallets within 24 hours. Time is saved and customers are guaranteed fresh products.

Working under the guidance of Caine Wanjau, chief technical officer at Twiga Foods, Juma, who is a Software engineer, designed the platform that has been aptly considered a genius resource for hundreds of people in the value chain.

“The idea for the firm was to cut the middleman and give Twiga Food’s13,000 farming community and 5,000 vendors maximum attention,” he says.

The company buys produce from farmers and sells to vendors after value addition, including ripening and processing.

They source quality produce from farmers, providing them with a ready and guaranteed market while at the same time delivering produce to thousands of vendors.

For ages, the company had been grappling with handling monetary clearance for hundreds of their farmers, which had naturally proved exhausting. Something had to give, and so they begun the journey of Daraja.

“For our vendors, we use business-to-business approach through the mobile phone, while for the farmers, it is a business to customer model.

It is cost-effective and transparent. Before, it was a tedious exercise, having to run payments manually and sometimes we would make losses due to clerical errors,” says Wanjau.

So far, the system that runs end to end, and is fed in real-time by the technicians at Twiga Foods, is considerably secure. The product that has been built ground up has enough protection that goes with it.

“We have firewalls and proxy servers, which means we have enhanced security on data within the platform. The information therein, is obviously sensitive and so, we have integrated the service to capture all relevant information, which then  adds value to the farmers,” adds Wanjau.

The biggest issue the developers and management of Twiga Foods have grappled with is the element of trust for their farming community. “Of course, it takes time for buy-in with very knowledgeable farmers in our books. Now they can get loans based on credit standing and at the same time consider their farming activities  business,” says Wanjau.

Going forward, the technical team at Twiga Foods is considering investing in quality data collection methods and doing trial financing for the small holder farmers.

There is increased demand on the service and plans are already underway to take it to other towns.

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