The AgResults Kenya On-Farm Storage Pilot focuses on incentivizing private sector companies to develop, market, and sell new, or redesigned on-farm storage devices to smallholder farmers. The pull mechanism is not a prescription of technologies but rather encourages private sector innovation to provide cost and storage savings and economic benefits for smallholder farmers. In the third year of operation, the Kenya Pilot has nine companies participating in the Riff Valley and the Eastern Province that have sold 704,776 devices providing farmers with an increased capacity to store 209,195 MT of maize.
Kentainers, one of the nine companies participating, sold its first few plastic silos in July. These silos are the first on-farm storage devices that are not hermetic bags to be sold in the Kenya pilot, signifying a diversification of on-farm storage devices currently being offered to smallholder farmers.
Kentainers’ plastic silo, based upon a large plastic tank design, only became available on the market in June 2017. While the company had an initial prototype that was resistant to the large grain borer-LGB (a pervasive pest), they chose to improve on their design prior to putting it on the market. The company improved the device by redesigning the lid and grain outlet for easier and more secure hermetic access. In addition, the devices are narrower as well as stackable facilitating ease of storage. In addition to the design improvements, the company also mechanized the plastic mold and production process increasing production capacity from nine to one hundred per day.
Hermetic bags, the most popular device in the pilot, remain the least expensive option for smallholder farmers. The prices range from US $1.50 to US $3.00 per bag having a storage capacity of between 50kg to 100 KG as well as an estimated useful life of three years. Kentainers’ plastic silo, on the other hand, costs approximately US $60, stores 330 KG, and has a useful life of 15 years. The initial cost of the plastic silo may be higher and perhaps prohibitive for some smallholders, but the long term efficiencies may offset the price.
The sales of the plastic silos under the Kenya On-Farm Storage Pilot is an exciting addition, showing innovation in action due to the pull mechanism in an otherwise risky market. Kentainers has sold nine devices to date and is expected to grow as they implement marketing and outreach campaigns both with local governments and potential customers.