Twiga foods, Kenya’s first agricultural supply platform is set to start testing agricultural produce for any agrochemical residues, including pesticides. This will ensure the safety of Kenyans who grow and sell their food for local supply and export, to ensure their safety through food testing.
Twiga foods will be the first domestic company to facilitate the fruit and vegetable testing, to test the maximum residue levels on a regular basis. The company already handles 130 tons of food on a daily basis, and the farmers will also be trained on the kind of safe agrochemicals which are appropriate for use.
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Initially started in 2014, to provide market access to local farmers, the startup has since grown and received investor funding to expand their mobile-based business to business platform. The application seeks to connect small and medium-sized businesses with supply from local farmers to meet their demand. Closing the gap of the middle man and making it a direct buyer-seller transaction for the regional Kenyan farmers to profit and the businesses to gain fresh produce.
The goal was to formalize the informal sector of agricultural trade, making it easier to access the market in a seamless and easy to navigate way, for both vendors and farmers. The process is easy to use, with farmers first joining Twiga Foods. The firm then comes to assess the farm, and upon approval, they are added to their system. Twiga then issues a purchase order to book the yields of the plantation and then a date for the indicated harvest time is marked. Once it yields, the harvest is collected and weighed by the company, and the farmer is paid within 24 hours.
Vendors also sign up and join, and the procedure is the same save for the fact that, they are buying the stock. Before this platform, farmers had a hard time negotiating market value prices for their stock, some of it even rotting from lack of access to a ready market, or it was sold at a throwaway price to get rid of it. The agricultural market was experiencing high losses with many farmers complaining of low payment, late payment and dead stock due to irregularities in the market and within the government agricultural sector. Similar to what happened with the NCPB scandal.
The platform is a saving grace for many, who have now come full circle to make profits from their agricultural and entrepreneurial efforts. The company has now made milestone growth, from 80 vendors signed up on their website, to more than 5000 today and 8000 farmers. According to the world food bank, Twiga Foods currently holds the number one spot for Kenya’s largest seller of bananas, potatoes, and tomatoes, among other Kenyan diet staples. This is a landmark move for a 4-year-old start-up.
This start-up was the idea of Grant Brooke and Peter Njonjo who teamed p to come up with the platform. Today, in partnership with the Agricultural and Food Authority and Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, the initiative to do food testing will increase the standards of agricultural produce in the domestic market which will be comparable to the food marked for export. Locals receiving the best fruit from their yields as well.
Chief Operating Officer, Kikonde Mwatela said that this move would ensure the highest standards of food safety are maintained from the land to the dinner table. Ensuring proper nourishment, and good health of Kenyan consumers. The company prides itself on its friendly services, offering free and efficient delivery of produce to their vendors. Pricing has also become stable and transparent. Maintaining market value for both vendors and farmers alike.
Once the middleman was eliminated, fair prices and quality products can be assured and easily traced while in the hands of the capable firm. The success of this technology startup among others in the domestic market holds true that Kenyans can come up with sustainable solutions for their own regions to tackle local problems successfully.