When we think of “technological innovations”, one usually thinks of high-powered suits and sleek rooms full of equipment. But huge challenges like food security too, can be assisted by technological innovations, in ways that make much impact without the noise.
Today, tech is facilitating Nigerian farmers’ ability to connect with buyers, reducing food waste and increasing their income and regional food security in the process. KasuwaGo is a virtual marketplace app that connects farmers, wholesalers, and retailers across grain value chains to promote market integration between the major producing areas and markets in West Africa.
West African farmers must often travel long distances to markets just to sell their harvests, struggling against rising transportation costs and deterioration of their product, with no guarantee of finding a buyer. By moving the market online to a virtual space, the app connects farmers directly with regional markets, bringing market knowledge to their fingertips and reducing the risks associated with trading in person.
While farming and phone technology might not seem like obvious partners, given existing stereotypes about the phone ownership rates and education of rural households, the KasuwaGo team has enlisted local youth to teach their elders how to, setup, login and start trading. Acting as Youth Outreach Ambassadors, these young people are trained on how to use the phone app so that they can then teach farmers in their communities how to connect to regional traders with the touch of a button.
The name KasuwaGo is a hybrid of Hausa and English. Kasuwa means “market” in Hausa, by adding the English word “go” we have KasuwaGo: A market on the go. The app was developed based on the needs of farmers, traders and resellers in a collaborative effort between researchers and programmers. Dr. Michael Olabisi, a researcher at Michigan State University, is the driving force behind this on-the-go platform for farmers.
KasuwaGo was developed in collaboration with lead research partners: Dr Toyin Ajibade, University of Ilorin and Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe, Centre for Dryland Agriculture – Bayero University Kano and International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics-ICRISAT. Venture Garden Group in Lagos, Nigeria, provided technical support for the creation of the app.
The journey to creating KasuwaGo started in 2019 from conversations with farmers and traders by Prof. Mywish Maredia and Dr Olabisi (on a commissioned activity for the Legume Systems Lab). The conversations continued with Drs. Ajeigbe and Ajibade, our Nigeria-based co-PIs about solutions that help the value chain as it is, and that speak to the future of Nigeria’s agri-food systems. The shared experiences of the team of Nigerian co-PIs and the MSU lead PI inspired the effort to seek a research grant to turn the idea into reality.
KasuwaGo was launched in June 2021 in Nigeria and is currently in the process of expansion into Niger. The app is available in multiple languages, including English, French, Hausa, Igbo, Nupe, and Yoruba. It was also designed to allow for multiple product transportation methods and flexibility in the exchange of goods. Farmers across the region can communicate in their own language to resolve logistical issues and get the best price for their grain.
The KasuwaGo research project is funded by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Legume Systems Research, a five-year research capacity-building development program managed by Michigan State University that focuses on grain legumes in West and Southern Africa. The Lab focuses on opportunities that address nutrition, the unique needs of women and youth, as well as the resilience of people and systems under stress and shocks. It also contributes to the development of human and institutional capacity for a resilient agricultural innovation system. Feed the Future was established as the U.S. government’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative. Feed the Future is managed by the US Agency for International Development.
The KasuwaGo project team is seeking private-sector partners to take over the app from the second quarter of 2023. Given its more than 13,000 registered users in over 300 markets, it is ready to grow from a research project to a viable venture. We encourage interested parties to contact Dr Olabisi at firstname.lastname@example.org or @m_globally on Twitter.
This application was made possible through support provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Feed the Future Initiative and terms of Cooperative Agreement No. 7200AA18LE00003. The content presented herein are expressions of the developers and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.