AFAP Delegation Studies Kenya Agro-Dealers
13 February 2013_ The African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) recently deployed an 11-member delegation of fertilizer industry experts and agriculture officials to examine successful agro-dealer development programs in Kenya.
The trip was organized with the Agricultural Market Development Trust (AGMARK), a Kenya-based agro-dealer development organization and an AFAP partner.
The purpose of the study tour was to expose the Mozambican delegation to successful programs that have provided smallholder farmers with easy access to improved agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer, agricultural technologies and markets
“AFAP is trying to find the best ways to ensure that smallholder farmers have access to affordable, quality fertilizer, agro-dealers and retailers close to their farms, and technologies that help them increase their yields,” said AFAP Mozambique Country Manager Sergio Ussaca, who organized the trip with AGMARK.
The trip to Kenya was an example of the benefits of the AFAP partnership with AGMARK, said Jason Scarpone, AFAP president and CEO.
James Mutonyi, AGMARK’s country director said he was pleased with the outcome of the trip.
“In the five days that the delegation was in Kenya, the delegates learned a lot of concepts that will be easy to implement in Mozambique,” he said.
Mozambique smallholder farmers face many challenges when accessing fertilizer. One of the major challenges is the distance to the nearest supplier. Without transportation, farmers struggle to get enough fertilizer for their farms. In remote farming communities in Mozambique, up-to-date technology often does not reach farmers on time. The Kenyan example will help Mozambicans understand the importance of the distribution network in the fertilizer value chain.
In Kenya, the delegation visited agricultural input associations such as the Agrochemicals Industry Association and the Seed Trade Association of Kenya. These associations have increased the amount of agricultural inputs smallholder farmers use in Kenya. The experience highlighted the important role of strong agriculture associations in influencing policy, Ussaca said.
The delegation also witnessed the critical role hub agro-dealers play in the fertilizer value chain in Kenya, Ussaca said.
“A hub agro-dealer is a small distributor who owns wholesale outlets in an area and provides fertilizers and other agricultural inputs to retailers in nearby villages,” he said.
Hub agro-dealers currently do not exist in Mozambique, Ussaca said. But the delegation agreed that it was a concept worth considering.
Creating hub agro-dealers would help AFAP achieve its goal of making fertilizer more available and affordable to smallholder farmers, Ussaca said.
“This concept will allow AFAP to better strategize its interventions in Mozambique in order to reduce the cost of logistics required to supply fertilizers to smallholder farmers in villages,” he said