FCI Impact stories is a new communication series through which Farm Concern International, FCI shares untold stories of progress and profits in Africa gathered through direct implementation of Commercial Villages Model for smallholder commercialization and market access going on for 12 years [2004-2016] and commencing scale up in 2017. The series is based on impact data and tales of transformation for programmes in smallholder commercialization, market access and capacity development conducted in 24 countries in partnership with 132 development partners and 24,028 buyers.
The Domestic Horticulture Markets (DoHoMa) Programme is a 5 year programme designed for domestic markets mainstreaming with a focus on Traditional African Vegetables (TAVs), Bulb Onions and Irish Potatoes with an Agri-Nutrition Solutions component. DoHoMa is graduating 115,491 Smallholder Farmers, SHF into entrepreneurs and with cumulative sales of USD 350 Million in Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Malawi. The programme is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, BMGF....Read More
A recent survey conducted by FCI shows that one million women farmers could save Kshs 504 Million (USD 5.9 Million) per year in transport costs to the market to obtain farm inputs while. This is through the Women Farmers in Agri e-Trade programme, an innovation designed by FCI with funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The programme aims at helping women smallholder farmers reduce time spent in accessing quality farm inputs, a priority of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at using technology to help farmers hone their business skills in order to save time.
Before the introduction of the program at Evurore Division of Mbeere North Sub-county, Julieta, one of the farmers who joined the programme, would travel all the way to Embu town, 50 km from her village to buy farm inputs since some of the products that she needed were not available at the local agro vets.
Through the program, Julieta learnt basic IT skills to access farm agro-inputs using her mobile phone, saving time and money. She went through the FCI-facilitated training on how to place orders and also make inquiries through her mobile phone. Since she became a registered member in the platform, Julieta is among the farmers who have ordered for inputs such as maize, mango fly traps and PICS bags. With a better sense of how to balance all the demands in her life, she continues to build on her strengths, operational excellence and passion for business. Julieta personifies this adage: always give a task to a busy person –they will manage to get it done.
Whenever Julieta would go to Embu, she would spend Kshs 240 (USD 2.64) on transport alone and additional costs during the trip. In the long-run, this affected her savings. It also meant that for almost half a day or sometimes the whole day she could not engage in other activities as much time was spent during the travelling to and from Embu.
Following a training held on how to place orders using the system during a session that was conducted for 103 farmers from Kiambindu CV, where she is a member, Julieta was enthused to embrace this technology. She now uses the time saved to carry out other productive activities. Now, she does not have to incur transport, refreshments, and any other unbudgeted costs. The fact that the inputs are delivered to her has helped her save on labour too.
She commends FCI for introducing this new technology and encourages other farmers to embrace it. This is because she is also guaranteed of quality products unlike previously where at times she would unknowingly buy counterfeit products. Due to the supply of quality products to farmers like Julieta, farmers are guaranteed high productivity of crops and also improved quality that will attract better markets. Julieta was also trained on how to sell her produce using the Women Farmers in Agri e-trade platform and as a result, she is not concerned about a lack of market as she will sell her produce through the system once it is ready. Therefore, the program ensures that generations will be transformed towards a better future.
Charles Sekazuba, a resident of Kinigi in Northwest of Rwanda, has benefitted from Farm Concern International, FCI’s market linkages under the Rwanda Multi-Value Chain & Enterprise Development Programme implemented by Farm Concern International with support from World Vision Rwanda.
His profits have had a 733% increase to between 2,300,000 to 2,500,000 Rwf from 300,000 Rwf per season. Charles cultivates Irish potatoes on his farm. Previously, brokers (middlemen) and transporters gave him wrong market information on markets prices and benefitted more than him. Yields from his farm were sold without grading, in most cases as a mixture of good medium and bad quality which was affecting the prices and his revenues. He says that, prior to the intervention by Farm Concern International, Irish potato farming in Musanze was commercial but not aligned to market needs. “I could not deliver my farm products to the markets and deal with traders. I remember in some agricultural seasons, I could harvest from 1 tons to 5 tons and still be not able to sell it because of lack of market information”, he said. He noted that he lost potatoes which got rotten due to lack of market information in two consecutive seasons. A trader would come from Kigali and negotiate prices at the farm gate, price at which he could give the produce on credit. Later in the day, the trader would inform him that the market price had slumped and therefore he would lose a lot of money. However, things changed from the time Charles started working with FCI; through Village Business Forums and market exposure, he was able to familiarize himself with the market dynamics.
Through the linkage, he was able to get his produce’s worth by being in touch with traders; and access information on the market prices, and know what and when they needed. Charles is able to decide which market to supply depending on the quality and amount of his yields. “I am grateful and appreciate FCI’s market linkage. I harvest my produce knowing that Seburo (trader linked by FCI) is ready to come and collect it moreover paying in cash; no more debts. I can monitor my crops; decide the best period to harvest, get market information and double check the market prices in collaboration with traders from Kigali,” he says.
Sekazuba also noted that, transportation of commodities is now very easy as the trader goes with his own transport and pays the agreed price after communicating with other traders in Kigali and takes the agreed amount of produce and price at the farm gate. “Ever since I started working with FCI, my revenue has increased which allowed me to buy 30 acres of land. I am able to cater for my family needs, carry out my responsibilities and pay for the school fees and medical insurance for my family,” he says barely concealing his pride. He concludes, “I am planning to purchase more land for increased production of Irish potato but I will need continued support from FCI particularly more training on agronomy and market linkages. Thank you FCI”.
Farmers from Mae Village had never considered growing Zucchini for food consumption or commercial purposes until Farm Concern International conducted Zucchini commercialization training under the Market- Led Agriculture Programme funded by Canadian International Development Agency and World Vision.
After 32 small-holder farmers participated in the training sessions, they formed Jitume Commercial Producer Group(CPG) and immediately put their knowledge into practice. They planted Zucchini on a quarter acre in October 2013 and used cow dung manure and organic pesticides to ensure that none of the fruits would be infested. They harvested 0.5 tons and sold a kilogram of Zucchini at TZS. 3000. The farmers were very encouraged by the break through hence planned to continue with the same during the next planting season.
Mr. Boniface Musiba from Shamiri Commercial Producer Group in Kawaya village, Arusha was one of the beneficiaries who visited the exhibition in Arusha and adopted the drip irrigation technology. Boniface purchased the drip irrigation kit worth USD 375 and installed on his 0.5 acre plot of tomatoes. He also purchased 2,500 improved variety tomato seeds valued at USD 28.125.
He harvested 2.96 tons of tomatoes worth USD 1,387.5 as a result of adoption of good agricultural practices. From the proceeds, he spent USD 500 to pay fees for his two children, USD 500 to renovate his house and saved the remaining balance of USD 387.5 as capital for the next farming season.
The farm inputs industry is dynamic and therefore farmers have to keep researching on new entrants and improved items in the market. Consequently, FCI introduced ASA onion seeds to Ngage Commercial Village in Tanzania under the Northern Tanzania Rice Commercialization Programme implemented by Farm Concern International with support from World Vision Australia.
Victoria Mwanga and her neighbour, Asnath Jasper were among the beneficiaries of these improved seeds. Previously, Victoria would plant up to 7 Kgs onion seeds in one acre and get yields of about 50 bags.
FCI encouraged members of Ngage Commercial Village to try the ASA seeds during the subsequent planting season. Victoria and Asnath each bought 6 Kg of Bombay red from ASA and planted 2 acres (3kg/acre) as was recommended by the suppliers. During harvest season, their yield had doubled; Victoria harvested 131 bags while Asnath harvested 180 bags of onion which she sold at a price of Tzs .70,000 (USD. 44) per bag, earning Tzs.12, 600,000 (USD. 7875). This enabled Asnath to build a house and install a solar panel for lighting the house as well as other domestic uses such as radio and mobile phone charging.
FCI VISION : To have commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond