Kenyan farmers use SMS to beat climate-driven price uncertainty

Technology of the cities making the world flat….

Source: Alertnet // Isaiah Esipisu

KEmfarm510William Muriuki and his wife Ruth on their vegetable farm near Meru, central Kenya. ALERTNET/Isaiah Esipisu

By Isaiah Esipisu

MERU, Kenya (AlertNet) – William Muriuki and his wife are inspecting their vegetable farm in the tiny village of Karimagachiije, some 15 km outside Meru town in central Kenya. Cabbages, onions and Irish potatoes are ready to go to market. But the question is where?

Identifying the best market never used to be a problem, explains the 73-year-old farmer. “It was easy to tell what vegetables were in season in a particular area, so we knew the most appropriate places to sell our farm produce.”

But changing climatic conditions have disrupted market patterns. “It is no longer as predictable as it was,” he says. “We have to physically identify places with high demand.”

Even fairly recently, local farmers could be sure the rains would come around March 25 each year. So by the end of April, most vegetables would be in season, meaning low demand at nearby markets. In much of Eastern Province though, the rains would be delayed or not arrive at all, so farmers from the central region knew they could get a good price for their produce there.

But that’s no longer the case. “In the past few years, I have seen rains come much earlier than expected, or very late,” says Muriuki. “At times, it rains in Eastern Province much earlier or at the same time as it does here, or it fails to rain in both areas.”

In these challenging conditions, Muriuki and his farming colleagues have turned to technology to help them find the right market. Continue reading