The availability, accessibility, quality and price of agro inputs have been a major issue in the agribusiness sector from the farmer perspective. Agro inputs encompass not only crop related inputs like seed, fertilizer, and crop protection products but also seedlings, feeds, and machines which support crop and allied production.
There are issues of timely availability of major inputs in adequate quantity, and reliable quality, especially in seeds, crop protection products, and feeds. This dimension of agribusiness hits the farm production subsector hard as poor input quality and economics compromise the entire agribusiness sector, especially farmers and output users whose costs go up and benefit is reduced.
Worth noting is that in agribusiness sector, the agro-input subsector is the most crucial in attending to concerns of food quality, food safety and cost competitiveness. Likewise, agro-inputs are crucial for small farmers for yield enhancement, cost cutting, and better quality production for better price realization.
In a bid to improve farmers’ timely access to quality agro inputs and information, Kenya Markets Trust is supporting Farmers Pride to establish a sustainable franchise model business. Farmers Pride provides smallholder farmers with timely and relevant quality farm inputs at affordable prices through their innovative franchise model of agro dealers targeting Kenya’s Eastern Region.
Farmers Pride Agrodealers franchise model integrates the following;
- Promoting access to quality affordable inputs and services by franchisees to farmers
- Marketing support through joint activities e.g. shop launching, shop branding and remodeling, village and market promotions
- Regular business management and product knowledge training of franchisees
- Farmer field extension and education services support i.e. farmer field days and clinic days, market linkages, financial linkages, soil testing services and insurance services
- Access to new innovative products and services e.g. soil testing and new farming technologies.
KMT, through funding from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Gatsby Africa (GA), supported Farmers Pride to enhance its agro dealer franchise model primarily to reach out to areas that are underserved by agro dealer businesses as a result of perceptions that business lacks viability and poor infrastructural support. The key objective of this intervention is to serve small scale famers in the region to access quality inputs and services by establishing new franchise outlets and converting the existing rural agro dealer shops into the franchise network.
This partnership has shown good progress and positive impact on over 3000 farmers, with Farmers Pride expanding the franchise network to Masinga, Kithimani and Kathiani, in Machakos County.
The Masinga franchise has elicited exciting developments to small scale famers and the economy of that area. The area is semi-arid and has an average farming population of 2000 farmers mostly involved in horticulture. Farming activities have been made possible by irrigation from Masinga Dam. However, the area has never been served by an agro-dealer before due to the poor road network and the perception that the business is not viable in the dry area. This made access to quality inputs a challenge to the farming community as they had to travel over 50 Km either to Mwea or Embu in order to access quality farm inputs. This was a burden to the small-scale farmers as it consumed a lot of time, energy and money.
The Masinga franchise shop was launched in October 2016 where 8 input companies attended and trained over 250 farmers on their products. Since the launch of the shop, the sales have grown from Ksh. 56,645 as at Oct 2016 to Ksh. 278,287 as at Jan 2017. The shop traffic has grown from an average of 15 people to 88 people per month. The shop has also conducted farmer activities such as market promotions and field days.
Farmers Pride has introduced an animal health consulting call service through their technical team dubbed ‘Pigia Simu Daktari’ (Call a Doctor) in order to provide more information on animal health related queries. This new service is receiving an average of 50 farmer calls per week.
In addition to farmers accessing quality inputs and usage information, the launch of the agro-inputs franchise in Masinga has led to growth of other economic activities, springing to life an area that was dormant before. There are now other agrodealers shops, a petro station, an upgrade of all-weather road.