International Women’s Day – Tanzania Success Story AFFM:Suzy Agrovet & General Supplies
Suzana Lameck Sabuni, is a hub agro dealer and the sole proprietor of Suzy Agrovet & General Supplies, based in the Bariadi district, in the Simiyu region of Tanzania. Her enterprise provides improved seed, fertilizer and crop protection products to the rural/retail agrodealers and smallholder farmers in her region, especially in the Bariadi, Maswa, Itilima and Meatu districts. She is a distributor of inputs from Seed Co, Monsanto and Yara Tanzania.
Suzana feels that despite being in operation for a while, her business is not yet known by the retail/rural agrodealers and farmers in the region and that demand for agricultural inputs is still low.
It is true that most of the hub agrodealers in this region are not reaching their potential in the agricultural inputs market. This is due to several factors, such as a lack of financial muscle to serve a bigger farming population; customers not being aware of the services provided by the hubs in their vicinity; and a lack of information on the available market opportunities. Furthermore, as a woman, Suzana is fighting against patriarchal traditions, which dictate that women cannot prosper in business â€“ a manâ€™s domain. However, this has not discouraged her. Suzana believes that this narrative can be changed and that women-led businesses will and can contribute a great deal to agriculture in the region.
AFAP supported Suzana under the agribusiness partnership contract, supplying grants to: train her on business management; establish 12 demonstration plots of maize and cotton; and participate in the Nane Nane National Agricultural Exhibition in Nyakabindi. The demos and exhibition enabled Suzana to showcase her capabilities in a systematic manner. She was able to share with farmers the worth of improved agricultural inputs, best practices and technologies. In collaboration with AFAP and Yara Tanzania, Suzana developed banners, which highlighted the inputs and services she offers in her shop. She also printed leaflets on paddy, maize and horticultural farming to share with farmers during these demand-creation activities. In fact, 7,000 leaflets were distributed to 373 participants who had registered their attendance with her at the exhibition. Attendees with whom she shared her contact details were able to later visit her shop and buy inputs. Her customers can now buy inputs and access services at lower prices; they also donâ€™t have to travel a longer distance to Mwanza to achieve this. Since Suzana is also a distributor of Yara Tanzania, Monsanto and Seed Co, she, too, has been able to supply inputs to retail/rural agrodealers at wholesale prices in other districts in her region as well. These include Simiyu, Mara and Shinyanga. Since then, Suzana has developed a database of retail/rural agrodealers, which includes their telephone numbers and locations. She is serving 26 retail/rural agrodealers and approximately 3,000 farmers.
â€œThe training provided by AFAP was so timely and catered to our needs. My main issue was managing my stock and working capital, which was sorted during this training. Participating in the agricultural exhibition has helped a lot as we were previously not selling in the Mara and Shinyanga regions. We have been receiving phone calls from different rural agrodealers asking for various agricultural inputs, which we have delivered to them. This has helped us to know where they are located and cement the relationship between us. I see the potential to sell more in these areas,â€ says Suzana.
The year 2020 was turbulent with the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) creating repercussions worldwide, not to mention the effects it had on Africa specifically. The lockdowns, border closures, and restrictions on regional trade, all affected fertilizer and seed supplies, especially those that are imported. Suzana indicated that this affected her business too in that there were inputs, which were not available because they were being imported from countries that had closed their borders. This, in turn, led to increases in prices. Despite these numerous and far-reaching effects on agribusinesses, AFAP and its partner AfDB, were able to support Suzana, allowing her access fertilizer on credit from Yara Tanzania, under the Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism (AFFM) grant to enhance fertilizer importation and distribution capacity.
Suzana had this to say, â€œFertilizer purchase is capital intensive and has very low margins. Because of the low margins accruing, substantial returns are near impossible. As a result, it is not worthwhile to seek credit from commercial banks, which have high interest rates and cannot eventually be serviced. More often than not, we lack valuable assets that we can use as collateral. The credit facility with the suppliers plays a vital role in solving working capital constraints faced by agrodealers. Between October 2020 and January 2021, I have managed to get 90MT of fertilizer from Yara Tanzania on credit.â€
In the year 2020, between January and November 2020, from previous stock, Suzana was able to sell: 630MT of improved maize seed and indigenous vegetable seed; 760MT of fertilizer (NPK-350, Urea-300, CAN-100, DAP-10); 26,100 liters of crop-protection products; 5,000 liters of livestock-protection products; 1,500 sprayers and feeders; and 13,000 improved produce-storage bags.