2 small-scale pilot studies were undertaken investigating the initial ‘First Mile’ farm to market transport constraints faced by onion farmers in Nyeri County Kenya and tomato farmers in the Kilolo District Tanzania. Data on transport loads, costs and mode of transport were collected together with other information on transport challenges faced including transport delays and crop losses. In both locations, hired head and back loading was the prime method of movement on the initial journey (typically from one to four km) to the first point of consolidation. This method of transport could be over 20 times as expensive (on a per ton/km basis) than movement by truck. It was also found that the initial movements could account for between 10% and 40% of the total farmer’s crop earnings. Crop losses from bruising, getting wet and unpredictable delays were also common.
In Kenya farmers groups had attempted to overcome the challenges through both load consolidation, to gain advantages of the economies of scale of truck transport, and by developing a better route to take their produce. However it was found that the new route had major limitations, on vehicle movements, that could be easily solved by simple technical advice.
A panel discussion in the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Agriculture and Food for Development of the UK Parliament was held on 24 October 2016. The theme of the panel discussion was “From field to market: roads, transport and storage for smallholder farmers”. The panel discussion was held in the framework of the APPG’s inquiry into rural infrastructure for smallholder farmers and featured a presentation by on AFCAP funded work on the First Mile.
This research is part of the Applied Research on Rural Roads and Transport Services through Community Access Programmes in Africa and Asia (AFCAP2 and AsCAP)
Hine, J.; Njenga, P.; Wilolo, S. Overcoming the first mile - lessons from farmers in Kenya and Tanzania. (2015) 15 pp.