Case Study

Going mobile: Kenya Nut, Connected Farmer, and mobile payments.

What is Kenya Nut?

After being established in 1972 growing macadamia and cashew nuts in the country’s highlands, Kenya Nut has since expanded to grow, process and distribute an assortment of branded goods from coffees and teas to oils and chocolates.

What was the context?

As global demand has increased year-on-year, nut farming is an enormous export industry in Kenya. For many years, Kenya Nut has relied on a large contingent of smallholder farmers to cultivate locally grown macadamia nuts. Farmers live and work mostly in rural farmland areas, far from most urbanised marketplaces, which meant that they traditionally insisted on being paid in cash when making their regular harvest deliveries.

However, with daily drop offs weighing in at an average of 1 tonne, farmers would be at significant personal risk by physically carrying hundreds or thousands of dollars in cash. Those few who were paid via their bank accounts faced an additional challenge of having to make another stop in a nearby town or city at an ATM to draw cash and not have their fuel expenses covered.

There was an urgent need to protect farmers and their crops from security risks and ensure a simple, transparent and cashless method of transaction that did not impact Kenya Nut’s commitments to other wholesalers and international buyers.

What was the solution?

Mezzanine’s Connected Farmer is a software platform that runs on mobile GSM networks, making it ideal for Africa’s large base of mobile phone users. Offered as a solution that provides farmers with a range of insurance, credit and legal services and inputs such as seed and fertiliser, it seemed like the ideal base to facilitate access.

How did it work?

During the implementation, Mezzanine partnered with the Safaricom money transfer service M-Pesa, a fellow member of the Vodacom group. M-Pesa is an enormous success in East Africa and has safely facilitated billions of transactions since its inception in 2007. By integrating Connected Farmer’s payments tracking with M-Pesa, Kenya Nut was able to safely and securely make direct payments into farmers’ mobile wallets instantly. Overnight, the ability to deliver, weigh, agree on a price, and pay farmers transformed the way that Kenya Nut did business.

What were the results?

Since initial rollout in 2013, Connected Farmer has seen continuous improvement of the solution, ensuring consistent service and support for both Kenya Nut’s staff and their farming partners.

By enabling farmers to do away with large amounts of physical cash, they were incentivised to bring in larger deliveries, which allowed for greater export yield for Kenya Nut to eventually sell. Thanks to a dedicated change management programme, accounting, payments and distribution processes were all vastly improved.

Most excitingly, the shift from cash to mobile wallets also had the effect of digitalising a large sector of the agricultural economy in Kenya. Since then, farmers of all types of local crops have been able to participate in an ecosystem of instant access to the products and services they need to improve their communities’ prospects for the future.

The Connected Farmer seasonal solution enables enterprise customers to capture
eReceipts for produce bought from farmers and pay via real-time M-Pesa B2C transfers.
Over the past two seasons, our Enterprise customers paid more than $4.5 million per
season to farmers using Connected Farmer, pumping new money into the M-Pesa
ecosystem in Kenya.

“The Connected Farmer solution has transformed our operations by making us more efficient in how we interact with our farmers. We are impressed with the continuous investment to grow the product,”

said Stephen Adewole, head of ICT at Kenya Nut.

By the numbers

37,363 farmers serviced 2013

More than 2.5 million tonnes of macadamia nuts sold via the platform

Over $13 million saved in inaccuracies and inefficient manual processes

298,096 transactions on Connected Farmer so far

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