December 7, 2017
The Kenyan Presidential Election held on August 8 and the subsequent re-run on October 26 were closely watched due to the country’s history of political unrest. AgResults Kenya On-Farm Storage Pilot team has been monitoring the situation due to safety concerns and the potential impact on the Pilot’s implementation. Implementers reported negative impacts on almost all aspects of their business operations including slowed sales, stalled marketing promotion, and reduced number of orders, prompting worries that implementers will have reduced sales during their peak season. As a whole, the election process has disrupted the economy and at least 66 people have died due to unrest since the first election in August. The heightened tensions are compounded by the fact that Kenya has a history of disputed elections, most recently in 2007 when 1,200 people were killed.
One of the biggest impacts of the elections on implementer activity has been the inability to move freely to conduct normal business operations because of perceived security challenges. Implementers have not travelled to agro-dealers to check stocks and renew orders, nor have they been able to conduct planned marketing and promotional activities to increase awareness of their on-farm storage devices. A to Z Textile Mills Limited, a company that sells multi-layered hermetic bags, reported that in October that they had a number of agrodealers stopped placing orders in efforts to minimize their exposure, forfeiting a number of large orders. When asked about this, one agro-dealer stated,Why stock a shop when it might burn?Other companies report similar challenges and reductions of sales.
Many of the various actors in the value chain, including suppliers, agro-dealers, and others have adopted a ‘wait and see’ attitude during this time. Farmers have also reduced the demand for the devices as they are staying away from town centres where violence could break out, opting to purchase products if/when everything calms down.
Delicate political climates are always a risk to development projects and the Kenya On-Farm Storage Pilot is no different. At the time of writing this, unrest is still an issue and the overall impact on pilot results are yet to be seen. However, AgResults implementers report that sales are already increasing and the key actors are showing signs of renewed confidence in the market.