The SokoLink partnership increases the income of smallholder farmers in Kenya by reducing post-harvest food loss, certifying farmers in international standards, and connecting farmers to export markets.
P4G provided the partnership with $99,969 in grant funding.
SokoLink provides a solution for reducing post-harvest food loss in Kenya and creating a transparent food value chain that links farmers directly to export buyers so they can retain more of the revenue from their agricultural sales.
During the P4G funding period from January to December 2022, the partnership helped smallholder avocado farmers receive an average price of 67% more for their produce. The project has directly impacted almost 3,000 farmers (1,500 female and 1,500 male). As a result of SokoFresh’s solar-powered cold storage technology and the farmers’ using better agricultural practices, the partnership was able to reduce about 62,000 tons of Co2 emissions.
In a 1-year period, the partnership was able to ship 20 tons of avocados directly to export buyers, and 360 tons through local export partners. The partnership’s model of integrating cold storage solutions reduced the post-harvest produce loss on export trades from the current 9% to about 2 -3% total. It also certified 1,000 avocado farmers in Global GAP, an internationally recognized standard for growing, traceability and worker safety practices, which helps farmers receive more for their produce. The partnership has also supported an additional 5000 farmers to be certified.
“There have been positive changes brought by SokoFresh and One Acre Fund project. We have been taught how to use organic inputs on the farm. I also get better prices, and I can save for retirement and comfortably pay my children’s fees from the income I receive.”- Ann Gitau, Avocado Farmer, Murang’a County
P4G National Platforms State of Green in Denmark and RVO in the Netherlands were instrumental in helping the partnership connect with prospective buyers in the two countries respectively.
The partnership learned valuable lessons during the implementation period such as the following:
• The need for diversifying export partners to counteract the oversupply of avocados in the European and the preference for South American avocados during peak season.
• The farmer certification process taking longer than anticipated, which resulted in delays in fulfilling orders for certified produce.
• Better communication with farmers so they sold their produce to the partnership for higher prices, instead of third-party brokers who retained more of the profits.
• Setting up standard operating procedures to maximize efficiency and reduce time between sourcing, shipment and payment.
The partnership also learned about the challenges of rampant theft in avocado growing regions and a potential solution of mandatory implementation of traceability systems across the industry that could significantly reduce instances of theft.
The partnership between the three partners – Enviu, One Acre Fund and SokoFresh – was instrumental in leveraging each team’s strengths to deliver results. The three partners are in discussion about a commercially viable and scalable strategy for them to continue their work together.