When David Kiarie, a dairy farmer in Kiambu on the outskirts of Nairobi, posted on an online marketplace last December that he was selling two heifers, the last call he expected was from a potential buyer from outside Kenya.
It came from neighboring Uganda and it was among the first that he received. The farmer was interested in buying the two Friesian cows for his farm.
“He was eager to travel to Kenya to check on them and seal the deal. He came a week later and we completed the transaction last month,” he said.
Kiarie is among a growing list of farmers and traders across east Africa who are selling farm produce through the platforms.
The sites are boosting cross-border e-commerce, especially among small farmers, who never thought they would sell their products across the border from their phones.
Soya beans, livestock like chickens, cows and goats, grains and fruits are among products being sold online by farmers in Uganda and Kenya in particular.
On Mkulima Young, one of the leading Kenyan online marketplaces, Ugandan farmers are among the most active as they seek market in Kenya.
“We are selling wine from naturally blended fruits and make free delivery to your location. For more than 20 bottles a discount is offered,” a farmer from Namugongo in Uganda wrote.
It is the same case for other popular farmers’ online marketplaces in both Uganda and Kenya, as the food producers seek buyers.
Joseph Macharia, the founder of Mkulima Young, noted that online marketplaces are complementing traditional marketing channels as they give farmers a wider and unlimited market.
“By posting a product on an online marketplace, you are reaching buyers all over across Africa and in other parts of the world,” he said.
Macharia noted that besides Uganda and Kenya, farmers from Malawi and Nigeria are also posting their products on the site.
“Logistically it may be harder for a small farmer to ship produce to Nigeria or Malawi and vice versa but the dream of cross-border trade is being nurtured,” he said.
Kenyans in diaspora who are farming back home are among the popular users of the online sites, according to him, as they seek a wider market for their produce.
“Digital technologies provide farmers with additional marketing opportunities, acting as an enabler in solving local challenges that inhibit farmers from reaching a wider audience or market catchment,” said Macharia.
But it’s not only farm produce across the border that is being advertised on the online marketplaces, but also jobs and services.
“The good thing with online sites is that they transcend borders and empower the seller or buyer to get the best from any part of the world,” said Bernard Mwaso of Edell IT Solution in Nairobi.
Mwaso added that with Africa implementing the continental free trade area, e-commerce is at the center of actualizing the dream. Enditem