Traditional Informal Market Effeciency (TIME) Business Model focuses on Traditional informal markets as leading avenues for commodity marketing and food trade in Africa. Over 80% of agricultural commodities in Sub Saharan Africa are traded through the informal markets. These markets however are faced with various constraints that lead to depressed returns for market actors but even more for smallholder farmers who supply nearly all the commodities into these markets. This model systematically addresses the inefficiency and low competitiveness in informal markets by reducing such impediments as high transaction cost, enterprise inefficiencies, lack of basic business skills by buyers among others. The TIME business model provides answers to critical questions on supply chain efficiency, addressing logistics and transportation, competitiveness, business partnerships and business trust between informal market actors and smallholder farmers. The TIME model also addresses flow of market information and learning for thousand of market actors along various commodity chains. Informal markets are drivers for rural development as well as hubs for food distributions from food surplus regions to food deficit areas.  FCI through this model has evolved 170 informal markets, over 24,095 informal market actors as partners as well as several local market authorities in enhancing market actor effeciency, business partners with commercial villages as well as critical hubs for food distribution and trade. FCI partners with traders and market associations across over 50 commodity chains, designs market hygiene, sanitation and lighting innovations as well as create market information dissemination platforms with market players. The incorporation of digital online trading platform through AFMAX, enhances trade effectiency by availing market information as a critical component for TIME business Model.

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Farm Concern International, FCI believes that combination of innovative technologies and inclusive business models is key in unlocking opportunities for smallholder commercialization and competitive participation in profitable markets. FCI through this approach embedded under the Commercial Villages Model seeks to foster participatory identification of demand driven innovations and technologies that increase farmers’ access to inputs, increases yield, enhances collective marketing action among smallholders as well as linkages to business services providers. FCI’s innovations include; ICT Platforms for market access and capacity development, climate smart technologies like ‘kijiji’ drip Irrigation kits, Village processing equipment and processing technologies, post-harvest management among others. FCI’s ICT applications in Agricultural commercialization and market development include; AfmaX which is mobile telephony platform based on USSD technology that connects farmers to markets and other essential business service providers. This application runs on normal feature phones in Kenya and has so far enabled trade among smallholder farmers amounting to USD 886,365,625.00 FCI also champions utilization of web and mobile enabled applications for farmers’ capacity development. A case in point is a digital platform for comprehensive access to Agricultural information developed and deployed to in partnership with World Vision Rwanda. FCI has also embarked on a Commercial Villages digitization process under eKijiji (eCommercial Villages) initiative a development that will oversee all services and solutions provided under the commercial villages infrastructure digitized for scale up. Other Innovations include; virtual real time data collection tools, near-the- farm (village) processing equipment designed by FCI and fabricated by selected partners across Africa.

Case Studies

E-CVPP Innovations and Technologies

The Expanded Cassava Village Processing Project (E-CVPP) is a Farm Concern International (FCI) project in Kenya and Tanzania, funded by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, (AGRA). The project focuses on smallholder commercialization and market development of cassava and sweet potatoes. It is expected to facilitate production of up to 1.1million MT of cassava in three years by 75,000 farmers in Kenya (Kilifi, Makueni, Mtwapa, Mwala, Busia) and Tanzania (Kibaha and Meru), and, 23,000 MT of sweet potatoes...  Read More


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Commercial Zones approach designed by Farm Concern International, FCI under the Commercial Village Model focuses on sustainably deepening the impact at scale (wider geographical coverage) through enhancing vibrant agri-trade enterprises and investments.

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The African Traditional Foods (ATFs) is an FCI approach to food security and nutrition through promoting production and utilization of traditional foods which are well adapted to local conditions and require low levels of inputs and are resilience to climate change, pests, diseases and economic turbulence. The adaptability to climate change and resistant to pests and diseases ensure availability of quantity, nutritious and diverse household foods. The approach is anchored on the FCI Commercial Villages Action Plan where villages prioritize African Traditional Foods (ATFs) for healthy lifestyles, through commercialization to improve accessibility to a wide range of traditional foods as well as household incomes. 

ATFs are highly nutritious and the approach fosters wide consumption of nutritious, healthy, diverse and safe food by various cohorts, including under-five, elderly, pregnant and lactating mothers as well as invalids members of the Commercial Villages. FCI has been on the forefront in educating consumers on the benefits of ATFs for increased demand through which household incomes are addressed to ensure stable and sustainable availability, access and utilization of these foods. FCI has addresses the poor man’s crop and livestock perception through consumer market analysis and awareness campaigns which has turned around this view. The ATFs approach is supported by FCI market-led programming through various strategies that ensure smallholder households integrate nutritious traditional crops and livestock for improved livelihoods.

Traditional Foods Club

The Traditional African Foods (TAF) Club is a modern internet based club that has been initiated by Farm Concern International to mobilize consumers to incorporate nutritious foods in their diets. It aims to change consumer attitudes and perceptions of Traditional African Foods which are nutrient -rich so that they become prime foods of choice in all kitchens and dining tables. Traditional Foods include traditional vegetables such as Amaranth, Spider Plant cowpeas and African night shade; staples and pulses such as cassava, sweet potatoes, millets and sorghum. The TAF club will be successful when it succeeds in making in households or restaurants discontent any time they do not have a selection of traditional foods in their kitchens and menus.  The club is riding on the growing interest by consumers in nutritious foods and healthy living by providing food facts and insights to visitors. Information will be provided on nutritional value of foods, food selection and preparation, and recipes ideas for African traditional foods. The club was initiated to respond and engage with the high number of visitors that visit the Recipes section of the Traditional Foods site on the Farm Concern International website. 

Lifestyle disease trends 

In recent years, traditional African foods are gaining popularity with urban consumers who are becoming more conscious of changing their habits to adopt more healthy lifestyles that incorporate nutritious foods in their diets and physical exercise.  This is as a consequence of personal experience that affects Kenyan households who know patients suffering from a lifestyle related disease either as family members, relatives or friends and acquaintances. This has contributed to consumers gaining knowledge about the link between unhealthy lifestyles, choice of foods and disease. 

Kenya is not exempt from experiencing a rise in lifestyle related diseases faced by other countries the world over. Conditions such as obesity and diseases like hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes Type 2 and renal diseases have increased and stem from the type of foods being consumed and a sedentary life style. These foods include fast foods and processed foods which characteristically are stripped of important nutrients or contain a lot of oil due to being fried. 

Consumer behavior 

The appetite by consumers to safeguard their health through utilizing nutritional supplement has attracted companies that market nutritional supplements.  Consumers are spending substantial amount of their income on different types of nutritional supplements in an effort to be healthier. Consumers are also searching for information on how to live healthy. The TAF Club will this play a role to address the needs, offering food based solutions which is cheaper , affordable  and more healthy to households as compared to purchasing nutritional  supplements. 

How the TAF Club will function 

Visitors on the TAF club website will access general information that will be updated on regular basis on foods and nutrition with emphasis on African Traditional foods, and food and nutrition events.   Visitors will be required to register  as members to access more information on recipes and nutrition, and  videos on food preparation. They will also be able to engage in interactively so that their concerns and views are taken care of. 

Case Studies

Smallholder farmer benefits from farming Traditional African Vegetables

William Gathungu and his wife Mary are among the households in the Domestic Markets Regional Programme implemented by Farm Concern International with support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that have realized the nutritional and economic value of growing Traditional African Vegetables (TAVs). They are members of Kahuho Commercial Village in Nairobi Kenya. Before Farm Concern International intervention, the couple was growing TAVS on less than 1/8 an acre...  Read More

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Rural women do not have the luxury of day care facilities for infants and toddlers, a situation that greatly restricts their integration and participation in economic activities within and outside their homes. Toto Care an FCI innovative approach is a mobile village day care unit equipped with toys and games to engage children in play activities when their mothers attend Commercial village meetings. This approach seeks to ensure that mothers with infants and pre-school children participate in village and group meetings contributing to decision making processes there in. FCI continues to work with the farmers to develop innovations that address their needs and that allow them to participate in market development and commercialization actively.


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FCI VISION :Commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond.