by Ejidiah Wangui
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s David Kioo
almost gave up on horticulture farming last year despite the
high octane optimism that informed his decision to embrace an
otherwise lucrative venture.
The middle-aged farmer was
disappointed by a string of crop failure occasioned by climatic
stresses, market volatility and high cost of farm inputs like
fertilizers and seeds.
Kioo had earlier resigned from a clerical job and his
enthusiasm in horticulture farming suffered a blow due to the
numerous hurdles that he encountered.
His reprieve came through a Facebook page called "Kenyan
Digital Farmers" which provided a platform for struggling
smallholder farmers to learn new survival tips amid huge
Through this digital platform, Kioo and his peers in
horticulture farming are able to exchange vital information on
markets, proper agronomic practices, weather and consumer
"Things are a bit better compared to a few years ago but we
still have a long way to go, online platforms such as Facebook
rescued some of us who almost gave up on horticulture farming,"
Kioo told Xinhua during a recent interview.
He confessed that a glut occasioned by oversupply of tomatoes
in the local market forced him to feed them to cows.
"I was forced to feed the tomatoes I had just harvested to
cows since the market was already saturated with the vegetable
and its prices had slumped drastically," said Kioo.
Noah Nashiali, another horticulture farmer from a wealthy
Nairobi suburb came up with a novel innovation dubbed Farmerbot
to help farmers market their produce directly and evade the
onslaught of greedy middlemen.
He noted Farmerbot has revolutionized horticulture farming in
Kenya by eliminating brokers who often eat into smallholders’
"The idea behind Farmerbot is to give farmers the much needed
companion from planting throughout to harvesting and finally to
the market," said Nashiali.
He partnered with well wishers to develop Farmerbot several
years ago when he used to have a bumper harvest of cabbages yet
lacked ready market for them.
"Farmerbot seeks to cushion farmers against unfortunate
events like absence of ready market for their produce," said
He noted that Farmerbot gives interested farmers a chance to
join a Telegram group, where they meet potential buyers and
"Besides linking up growers with ready markets, Farmerbot
provides the farmers with latest information on sound agronomic
practices," said Nashiali, adding that many youth who have
ventured into horticulture farming are keen to utilize
innovations to enhance productivity.
So far, an estimated 2,000 buyers in Nairobi, Mombasa and
other major towns are using Farmerbot to order for produce.
Nashiali said that any farmer with a smart phone can upload
the Farmerbot application to access information about market
trends on real time basis.
He added that cheaper internet connections in rural areas has
enabled horticulture farmers to obtain timely information on
markets, weather and looming threats like pest and diseases.