What hay delivery can teach us about markets

The drought that has hit the country in the last year yielded some interesting innovations. Bales of fodder either grass or rice husks were brought to farmers‘ doorsteps. The price went as high as Sh300 a bale.

I know this fact because I bought some. Why not apply the same concept to human food? Home deliveries accelerated with the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic and were usually for packaged products like rice or cooking fat. Fresh produce is yet to take root.

Why must we go to the supermarkets or kiosks? [iStockphoto]

Lots of Kenyans do not have fridges. You have to pick fresh produce like sukuma wiki (kales) or milk daily. What if someone had a mobile kiosk to bring vegetables to our doorsteps? 

Why must we go to the supermarkets or kiosks? With digitalisation and the rise of e-commerce, families can easily place their orders.

Think of the growing number of the elderly who would still want to shop but avoid going to markets because of reasons such as bad weather or traffic. We have been too fixed on the youth bulge that the growing population of the elderly escapes our thinking. 

Would gated communities not be such good markets for such delivery? Such food would be cheaper and with shorter supply chains. 

We could even pre-chop sukuma wiki, cabbages and potatoes, among other vegetables to make life easier for the customers. We have such, “mobile kiosks” in countries like Japan that serve the elderly who use this window of collecting their supplies to catch up with colleagues. 

This model could work because farmers‘ markets are not well developed. How many of you have visited Nairobi's Wakulima Market? How many such markets are there in Kenya with ample parking and sanitary facilities? Does that include Soko Mjinga and Soko Mpya along the Nairobi - Naivasha Road? 

I would love to wait for a van to deliver my fresh milk, cabbages, fish, sukuma wiki, mutton, nduma (arrow roots), sugar cane and any other foodstuffs at my door. And in future, this will be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) to pre-order for me. 

If we can do that for fodder, why not for ourselves? Technology and infrastructure exist, but only our will is missing. We should stop seeing the market as a physical place that we must visit.  The market can come to us.