James Kanyi - Ruralnet Trading Services
James Kanyi is a TruTrade franchisee and Managing Director of RuralNet Trading Services, which was set up as a social enterprise in 2010. He is based in the Mt. Kenya region. James has been training farmers’ horticultural groups and linking them to markets since 1998.
Ruralnet Trading Services
Ruralnet employs fair trade principles in its trading endeavours and seeks to eliminate market inefficiencies in the horticultural value chain. Ruralnet’s vision is to promote sustainable development in rural areas through honest brokering of horticultural produce from small-scale farmers using TruTrade’s Transaction Security Service operations (TSS).
Main Value Chain: Mangoes
Ruralnet works with small-scale mango growers whose main challenges are low income due to poor access to markets. In 2014/5 Ruralnet had some trial runs from his farmers’ groups to find good buyers and to assess the middle costs for the trading. The market tests showed that the quality of the mangoes was very poor with issues concerning fruit fly, mango weevil, anthracnose and stem rot. Therefore Ruralnet took steps in 2015 to improve the quality of the mangoes before the next marketing season and is working in partnership with Real IPM (Integrated Pest Management), a company specialising in biological pest control, which supplies sprays and outdoor disseminating devices for controlling fruit fly and other pests and diseases.
Links to Farmers
Ruralnet is working with 50 mango growers in Embu County around the Karurumo area. In order to be able to produce good quality mangoes and to sell them at a premium price Ruralnet linked 11 farmers under a stewardship scheme to pilot the Real IPM applications in their orchards. Ruralnet uses six agents who have been trained by Real IPM as village based advisors. At harvest the agents sort, grade and take records of the mangoes brought to the collection point. All the crates are tagged with the name of the farmer for traceability.
Ruralnet sources mangoes for Burton and Bamber an agro-processing company in Thika specializing in preservation and dehydration of fruit and other vegetable crops. The farmers are selling at 8/ per kg with a bonus, after the buyer pays, of 3/, (approx. Ksh 60,000/) per 4 ton consignment. Ruralnet also exports to the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) markets in Kampala. In the season Ruralnet sends truckloads of 10 tons (approx. 20,000 pieces) to Kampala, the farmers are selling at 7/ per piece for the Kampala market with a bonus of 2/, (approx. Ksh 360,000/ per full consignment).
2015/16 Turnover and Projections
In 2015/16 season Ruralnet has traded 12 tons of mangoes, however quality has still been an issue. Ruralnet continues to work with RealIPM and buyers to address the issues. Plans are in place to set up a fruit-processing unit for mango pulp in Karurumo, and find ways to use the rotten mangoes. It is important for farmers to have markets for all grades of produce.
Many of the mango farmers also grow organic avocados. Ruralnet will be sourcing Hass avocados from Embu and Nyeri in 2016 for export through Fair Trade Enterprises. The season will start in April after the main mango season. Ruralnet has around 20 farmers and aims to source a regular supply of 10 tons per week for 2 months.