Twitter link puts smiles on the faces of Narok’s Irish potato farmers

Digital Content

Tired of being fleeced by middlemen who offer them poor prices, the Irish potato farmers have signed up to the social media site where they tweet to engage hotel owners — mainly in Nairobi — access daily commodity prices, and close deals online.

Through a closed user group aptly named @ViaziNarok; the potato farmers congregate online where they share market intelligence reports and haggle with café managers in real time — creating a virtual distribution chain that bypasses brokers.

So far, 1,953 potato farmers from Narok and 17 hotels in Nairobi are ‘‘following’’ the mobile-based platform, developed in April, free of charge —wirelessly bridging the more than 150 kilometres between them.

To sign up to the SokoShambani platform, farmers are required to follow a four-step procedure where one sends the word START to 8988. The next steps involve sending the farmer’s name, location, and crop variety.

The agri-tweeting venture has already caught the eye of American development agency USAID which is providing funding worth Sh4.3 million.

The Irish potato is Kenya’s second most important food crop behind maize, involving approximately 790,000 farmers who produced 2.4 million tonnes of the tuber last year from about 123,000 hectares of land.

SokoShambani joins the league of the increasing number of agriculture-related mobile apps such as M-Farm, iCow, M-Shamba, and FarmPal which seek to provide interventions such as extension services, market information, and value addition