Market linkage forum held for processors and farmers
On 25 July, the ICRISAT-HOPE project organized a market linkage forum for 12 representatives of 6 farmer groups (Wamama Tuamue, Osipata Mabati, Umoja, Aremit Upendo, Mukhula, and MARPA) and 2 local processors (Momagy and Easrcom Enterprises) from Busia town, Busia county, western Kenya.
The forum introduced the farmer representatives to the processors and helped them negotiate objectively in assessing the amount and price of grain. It also identified challenges and potential solutions faced by farmers and processors and recommended measures for implementation by both parties.
Currently the main challenges cited by the farmers were fluctuating prices and low household income from finger millet caused mainly by poor marketing infrastructure, inadequate market information, exploitative brokers, low productivity (low yield per unit of land and labor), and non-standardized weights. Some of the suggested solutions were: to increase productivity and land area under finger millet; formation of farmer marketing groups; linkage to urban traders who use standard weights; and inclusion of finger millet to the national grain reserve.
Meanwhile, the challenges identified by the two processors were high prices, poor grain quality, lack of trust by farmers for credit sales, inadequate capital to buy grain on cash terms, and low demand for locally processed products. Some of the potential solutions include sensitizing farmers to use cost of production as the basis to set finger millet grain prices, increase productivity and total production by farmers, use of forward contracts, improve access to credit to carry out cash purchases, use varieties that are easier to thresh, and training on improved post-harvest techniques.
The project, along with its national and local partners, has been promoting improved high-yielding, early-maturing, blast-resistant and market-preferred varieties of finger millet as well as microdosing and row planting through field days and use of small seed packs. This has doubled the productivity of finger millet in the participating farms from 4 to 8 bags of grain per acre (1.0 – 2.0 tons per ha). Productivity enhancement has led to increased marketable surplus, prompting initiatives to link these participating farmers to urban markets.