Originally published on December 18, 2015.
For Alfred Samoei, EASYMA 6.0 has transformed dairy farming into a viable enterprise.
Like many other small-scale dairy farmers in Kenya’s Rift Valley region, before September 2014, Alfred Samoei could not get a loan from a bank, access regular extension services on livestock breeding, or receive prompt payments for milk deliveries. Like his peers, Alfred relied on local traders and brokers, who would offer low, albeit immediate, payments for milk, leaving farmers vulnerable to exploitation.
This scenario is common for many other smallholder dairy farmers across Kenya who rarely engage in dairy farming as a business, and often do not get paid what is due to them. The chilling plants they deliver to often suffer from chronic cash flow challenges as a result of limited access to quality data, which in turn limits their access to financial services. This series of inefficiencies negatively impacts on livelihoods across the board.
By providing a one-stop automated supply chain solution to improve transparency and record-keeping within the dairy value chain, Amtech Technologies Ltd.'s EASYMA 6.0 is transforming dairy farmers' lives in Nandi and Bomet Counties. Developed and tested using seed funding and technical assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) via Feed the Future Kenya Innovation Engine
, the innovation is enabling almost 8,000 members of Kabiyet and Siongiroi dairies access to extension services, financial products, and even livestock insurance through several state-of-the-art modules incorporated into this web and mobile-based system.
Launched here in September 2014, EASYMA 6.0 enables dairy farmers weigh milk at designated buyer collection centers, within a 45km radius of the marketing cooperative, using digital scales. The farmers get an automated receipt for their deliveries immediately after their milk is weighed, and the delivery figures also reflect real-time at the cooperative's main office and the farmers' savings and credit cooperative organization (SACCO). This enables farmers to immediately get an advance from the SACCO based on the amount of milk delivered.
In 2015, Alfred Samoei accessed a KES 70,000 loan (approximately US $700) for urgent family needs. Alfred, who delivers approximately 50 liters of milk to the plant daily, uses proceeds from about 20 liters each day to pay back the loan, and assigns income from the remaining 30 liters to his wife to run the household.
Milk transporter Mr. Mutai displays farmers' receipts for deliveries made to Siongiroi Dairy.
“I really used to suffer losses from the manual weighing system. Now, every drop of milk is taken into account, and I am paid promptly," Alfred explains.
Before EASYMA 6.0, farmers had to leave their busy farms to make unplanned trips to the dairy to access artificial insemination (AI) and extension services. For time-sensitive needs, such as help for sick animals, typical delays in delivery would result in quantifiable losses for the farmer or lost opportunities, in the case of delayed AI services.
“If I can access timely AI services by sending an SMS to the system and can get extension services by querying EASYMA on my cellphone, surely, I have nothing to complain about!” Alfred continues, beaming.
Improved access to extension services and farmers’ growing confidence in the weighing and payment processes has also led to a rise in productivity and enhanced delivery to dairy plants. Daniel and Dorcas Keino, members of Kabiyet Dairy in Nandi County, previously delivered about 15 liters of milk to the plant daily. Now, the couple delivers 25 to 30 liters of milk daily. Like at least 5,000 other active members of Kabiyet Dairy, instead of channeling milk through brokers, the Keinos are earning more money, and their animals are in better health and can conceive at the right time.
Members of Siongiroi Dairy are enjoying similar benefits thanks to EASYMA 6.0. In June 2015, Siongiroi Dairy opened an additional branch in Dikirr area, Transmara Division, to cope with the increased milk delivery to the cooling plant. Siongiroi Dairy currently receives 1,500 to 3,000 liters daily, which is a remarkable for a new, smallholders’ plant. On its part, the main branch of Siongiroi Dairy currently receives 17,000 liters of milk daily, up from the previous 12,000 liters.
Agrovet outlets owned by Siongiroi Dairy are also reporting increases in sales for feeds and other inputs as a result of the farmers’ improved income and cash flows, as well as regular access to extension services. Kabiyet and Siongiroi Dairy plants have each managed to invest in laptops to enable their respective cooperative-owned agrovet stores to use EASYMA 6.0.
“With the current system, I receive daily reports showing sales and the remaining stock in the agrovet store. This helps me ensure timely and adequate supply of inputs for our customers," says Siongiroi Dairy Plant Manager Richard Soi.