June 15, 2017
Written by Bob Koigi
This article originally appeared on Spore.
Kenya Nut Company – one of the leading macadamia processors in Africa, purchasing on average 6,800 t estimated at €6.4 million each year – has grappled with the communication and logistical challenges of managing over 100,000 farmers supplying its 154 buying centres. In the past, Kenya Nut would dispatch more than 182 field staff to weigh supplies and pay farmers.
“Sometimes our staff had to walk long distances carrying large sums of money, and payments were usually done in the open, meaning people could see how much staff were carrying. During peak buying periods, this could amount to over €120,000 per day. The possibility of robbery was high, as were instances of staff misappropriating the money. As a business, we also had to shoulder too many operational costs, including bank charges on withdrawals,” says Wangai Gatawa, Kenya Nut’s field procurement manager.
However, the Connected Farmer Alliance (CFA) mobile payment system1 has heralded a faster and more convenient way of working with over 20,000 Kenya Nut farmers. The system records the payment details of farmers registered on the platform. When a farmer makes a delivery to the collection centre, the Kenya Nut staff check the nuts for quality before weighing them on a digital scale. The scale is connected to a web and mobile-based application, which sends the weight to both the weighing staff’s and farmer’s phone, and payment is automatically triggered to the farmer using the mobile money platform, M-Pesa.