Two 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.
Hine, J.; Njenga, P.; Wilolo, S. Overcoming the first mile - lessons from farmers in Kenya and Tanzania. (2015) 15 pp.