Naspers’-backed classifieds site OLX has launched an SMS service in a move to have as many people in Kenya to sell their stuff online minus an internet connection.
The firm is especially targeting farmers who do not own smart phones and has signed up over 9000 potato farmers in the country from Nyandarua and Nakuru counties. The service is available by dialing *887# and selecting region from which their potatoes come from. A notification is then sent to OLX, who in turn contact and link the farmer to potential buyers.
OLX country manager Peter Ndiang’ui said that 45% of Kenyans spend their income on food hence their focus on agriculture and potatoes in particular. He said the service will give access to potato farmers who wish to sell their potatoes on OLX but do not have smart phones.
“Potatoes form the bulk of food consumed in most urban areas. Our venture in potato farming is aimed at adding value to farmers by eliminating middle men who have fragmented the supply demand chain. Most of these farmers do not own smart phones. It is for this reason we have introduced the SMS service to target potato farmers who do not own smart phones but want to use our platform. The service is available to farmers in Nyandarua and Nakuru county. We will soon be expanding to other regions.” Mr. Peter Ndiang’ui, OLX country manager said.
He said that the long value chain does not give value to potato farmers who have to sell their potatoes mostly through middlemen. Potato farmers have been constantly exploited by middlemen who dictate potato prices. By trading directly on OLX, farmers will have a direct link to their buyers thus increasing their profits.
“Potato farming generates KES 25 billion at farm gate prices yet farmers profit margins are still negligible. By working directly with OLX, farmers will now increase profits through a shortened value chain. Our aim is to ensure farmers get value for their produce and buyers receive quality straight from the farm through OLX.” Mr. Ndiang’ui added.
OLX is helping farmers deliver potatoes end to end directly from the farm to customers and retailers in markets, restaurants and potato chips companies. In three weeks, OLX will assist farmers get fertilizers, agrochemical and seeds delivered to their doorstep at a subsidized rate.
Recently, OLX launched their agriculture category seeking to eliminate middlemen in the value chain. Most users were trying to list livestock and agricultural produce on OLX. This led to the addition of an independent agriculture category on their platform.