Medium size farmers use telephones, the internet and the ecosystem to develop agricultural value chains in Kenya: recent published paper on Emerald Insight


An MSM paper titled “Telephone farmers and an emerging ecosystem are unlocking the hidden middle of agricultural value chains in Kenya through innovation” has been published in the Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies of Emarald Insight. The paper contributes to the debate whether we should focus either on supporting small farmers, or on developing an ecosystem that supports medium size farmers while small farmers will also benefit from this as they will learn from the medium size farmers and sometimes work for them.

The paper is written by:
Meine Pieter van Dijk – Senior Project Consultant
Gigi Limpens – Project Consultant
Julius Gatune Kariuki – Senior Project Consultant
Diederik de Boer - Director Expert Center on Emerging Economies / Associate Professor Sustainable Business Development

About the paper
Telephone farmers are a group of farmers that can help to achieve a more dynamic agricultural value chain by using their telephones and internet. Telephone farmers can achieve this given their knowledge of technology, their education and financial situation and their relations with small farmers. The paper explores the potential of remote urban farmers (medium size farmers often living in cities) to invigorate farming in Kenya, assessing the telephone farmers practices and their contribution to inclusive value chain development and upgrading.

The article draws on interviews with farmers benefiting from a project designed to support telephone farmers. The paper also analyzes the functioning of the eco, or farmers support system. Donors can help to develop this ecosystem and a business school can support by providing business plans, feasibility studies and organizational support.

The writers conclude that it is important to develop the ecosystem of which the medium size farmers are part. The medium size farmers train the small farmers or sometimes buy their products to deliver the quantities necessary when they are involved in contract farming. The medium size farmers are also important for a dynamic agriculture sector. As the bigger farmers run their own business, the medium size farmers have the skills and the capital to serve as a catalysator and invigorate the development of agricultural value chains.

Click here to access the paper on Emerald Insight.

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