Deputy Commissioner for Cooperative Development Simon Mburia has highlighted the significant impact anticipated from the Kenya Rural Transformation Centers Digital Platform (KRTCDP) project on cooperatives in Kenya, particularly benefiting farmers.

This initiative is poised to centralise data information onto a single platform, simplifying the connection between cooperatives and farmers for various services.

Acknowledging the historical difficulty in directly reaching farmers due to insufficient individual member information, Mr Mburia stressed that this platform, tailored for cooperatives, will streamline processes, including direct payments to farmers rather than through intermediaries.

He referenced Sessional Paper No. 4 of 2020, which identified cooperative data documentation as a major hurdle in cooperative development, advocating for the establishment of digital information centers to address this challenge and enhance knowledge sharing.

He cited an example where cooperatives can now easily procure specific fertilisers, thus minimising wastage by catering precisely to farmers’ needs.

Highlighting the cooperative sector’s pivotal role in Kenya’s BETA agenda, aimed at advancing health, agriculture, manufacturing, and ICT, Mr Mburia underscored the sector’s responsibility as a key facilitator.

Launched a year ago and led by the Cooperative University of Kenya (CUK), the African Development Bank (AfDB) financed the project to empower smallholder farmers and integrate them into the agriculture value chain.

During a validation workshop in Nakuru, CUK Vice Chancellor Prof Kamau Ngamau emphasised the project’s benefits for farmers and cooperatives, enabling access to quality inputs, extension services, financing, and broader market reach.

Pro Ngamau noted the positive impact on farmers’ decision-making and economic returns, particularly in pilot counties like Narok, Nakuru, Baringo, and Nyandarua.

“Farmers have been incurring a lot of losses because their produce is usually ready to go to the market, but then they don’t know how to get buyers. At the same time, brokers have been taking advantage of the lack of information to come in and cheat farmers and give them poor prices,” said Prof Ngamau.

Joseph Naimodu, a dairy farmer from Narok County, said the platform would be key in providing market information to mitigate losses and combating exploitation by brokers.

Risper Chepkonga, Baringo County’s CEC Agriculture, Livestock & Blue Economy, praised the programme’s potential to enhance decision-making through digitisation, facilitating weather reports, market access, and resource distribution.

Ms Chepkonga highlighted the project’s relevance to Baringo’s maize, dairy, and Irish potato farming sectors, highlighting its comprehensive benefits across the value chain.

“This programme is going to assist us in terms of making informed decisions which will come as a major boost to our farmers,” she said.