Limpopo Delegation returns after Kenya study Tour

03 May 2013

A delegation of Limpopo’s key agricultural stakeholders that travelled to Kenya on a study tour last week is back enthused and eager to explore the different avenues in which they can implement the AFAP hub agro-dealer model in South Africa.

The study tour was organized by the Agricultural Market Development Trust (­­­­­AGMARK) in conjunction with the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), and exposed the South African delegation to the AFAP hub agro-dealer model, deemed to be one of Kenya’s success stories.

The AFAP hub agro-dealer model aims to consolidate the input supply chain by ensuring the constant availability of adequate fertilizers, improved seeds and agro-chemicals.  Through the development of hubs and a dimensional distribution system in the rural areas, smallholder farmers buy inputs at lower prices.

“The hub agro-dealer model is one that should ideally be implemented by all African countries,” said James Mutonyi, AGMARK’s Managing Director. “At the crux of the model are accessible farming inputs- a challenge that many smallholder farmers continue to face throughout Africa” Mutonyi added.

“It is important for African countries to learn from one another,” Mutonyi said.  “It is through these relations and exchange of knowledge that the continent will prosper.”

“It was refreshing to see the emphasis and importance placed on agriculture in Kenya, the importance of smallholder farmers is a gospel that government officials and farmers preach,” said Mphai Rapholo, an agro-dealer who was part of the delegation.

Tshilidzi Mathobo the Agribusiness Manager for the Limpopo Department of Agriculture wanted to explore the methods used by the Kenyan government to ensure that a majority of smallholder famers profited from the agricultural industry.

“This concept corrects the failures that are created by market structures that concentrate economic activities in more affluent areas thus neglecting the majority of poor people based in rural areas.”

“The hub agro- dealer concept ensures access to production inputs, technologies and information timelessly to smallholder farmers to increase productivity and at the same time address the food security challenge,” added Mathobo.

Acknowledging that the agricultural sector in South Africa and Kenya are different, Mathobo said it would be “tricky” to import the hub agro-dealer model as it is.

“The Kenyan agricultural sector is the thrust of their economy; whereas in South Africa, the agricultural sector competes with other sectors such as mining, tourism and manufacturing industries,” he said.

“However, I still see the space for the small agro-dealers in the deep rural farming areas  such as in the Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal where the current large scale dealers are not reaching,” he said.

Rapholo said witnessing the hub agro-dealer model was an eye opener. “We got a chance to meet with the Kenyan ministry of agriculture and it was evident that the government was willing to provide whatever support it could to ensuring that agro-dealers and smallholder farmers prosper,” Rapholo said.

Rapholo said the delegation that went believed that the hub agro-dealer model would also be a success in South Africa. “The need and the resources are there, it is now up to all involved in the agricultural sector to engage in conversation that will put the wheels in motion,” he said.

“Farmers in Kenya are dedicated and share a common vision with their government on viewing agriculture as precondition for their development, South Africa needs to follow suit” Mathobo said.