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Meru and Laikipia Farmers Embrace use of SOKO+ to Trade

By Anthony Mugo

Farmers from Laikipia and Meru counties were this week trained on how to make use of all the features of Sokopepe’s market access and knowledge management system SOKO+. The training took place in Nanyuki on September 8, 2015.

It focused on demonstrating and training farmers, teachers and education officials how to make use of SOKO+ to harness their linkages and therefore enable schools to provide a consistent; organised and fair market for their produce. More than twenty people were trained.
Sokopepe is a social enterprise established by ALIN to offer services based on online and mobile based ICT platforms.

The training was undertaken in the context of the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) being implemented in various counties by the Netherlands development organisation SNV with support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Sokopepe’s involvement in the HGSFP is to enable farmers, schools and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to harness the power of information and communication and technology (ICT) to enhance efficiency of trade in farmers’ commodities. It enables farmers to benefit from their farming activities and therefore encourage more farmers to take up farming as a business.

The other objective of the HGSFP is to ensure that children, particularly those living in arid and semi -arid areas, to get at least one meal a day and therefore the nutrition they need to remain in school.
Training is use of Soko+ was facilitated by Kibe Muthiora, Sokopepe’s technical officer. On hand from SNV was David Makongo SNV’s Business Development Advisor who is part of the team implementing the programme. The other facilitator was Gachara Gikungu of Timau-based Kilimo Biashara Promoters.

The farmers were drawn from two farmers’ groups namely Mount Kenya North Produce and Marketing Organisation, a farmer’ group based in Timau and Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative, based in Sipili Township, Laikipia West.
The platform SOKO+ enables farmers to query commodity prices and farming tips through the use of a mobile short code 20245. Farmers also receive SMS-based alerts with farming tips; weather updates and alerts relating to trading opportunities and early warning alerts related to climate, diseases and other hazards.