Despite the market disruptions caused by COVID-19 throughout Africa, TruTrade is busy maintaining smallholder farmer supply chains, paying farmers nearly $100,000 in recent weeks via mobile money for their crops. Digital solutions are now increasingly important in protecting agricultural livelihoods and food chains in Africa.
In terms of market linkage, TT’s core capabilities of direct mobile payments to farmers and traceability are key to addressing the challenges of market disruption. We are focused on creating safe supply chains, reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission within smallholder supply chains and providing buyers with confidence that supply chains are robust.
Since the situation escalated in mid-March, we have been able to continue providing smallholders with access to market despite restrictions to movement and buyer uncertainty.
In Kenya, we have sourced over 22MT of avocado in recent weeks – or about 88,000 pieces – all for export markets. Volumes and prices have been lower than we had planned but the situation is beginning to improve. In March, there had been a lot of concern about the entry of fresh produce to European ports, with fears of priority for dried and tinned produce. Other recent orders in Kenya include 12MT of mango for local markets from 48 farmers.
In Uganda we are coming to the end of the main harvest season but still managed to source 37MT of sesame and 18MT of white sorghum since restrictions came into force. We are working hard to get deliveries to buyers, including sorting out all the cleaning, packaging, testing and export documentation to move 100MT of white sorghum to a purchaser in Burundi.
It’s now the planting season in Uganda and farmers are very unsure of what to do. We have sent messages to all the farmers registered with us to assure them we will be sourcing their produce once it is ready in July/August.
It is critical to keep services working and although food supply is considered an essential service in both Kenya and Uganda, securing movement permits and other supporting logistics took a while to get in place. However, despite these restrictions, we still managed to pay smallholder farmers nearly $100,000 in the last four weeks, all through digital transactions.