The smallholder farmer is approached as an investorwho – with land, skills and access to a local market – already is resourceful. Rather than addressing the needed change of practice directly, an affordable ‘kit’ of inputs and know-how is presented as an investment decision.
LEVERAGE EXISTING ASSETS
The farmer already thinks like an investor. With a patch of land as the basic asset, they add seed, water, and work to – after some time – yield a result. The local demand for food creates a market where the value created can be exchanged for money. These are the existing assets that can be leveraged by modern agricultural practices and technology. Productivity is increased by higher yield, and the risk is reduced by choice of crop to achieve two things: first profitability, then growth.
TESTED AND PROVEN SOLUTIONS
An Investment Kit is complete in terms of inputs and relevant knowledge support. It typically includes irrigation equipment, seeds, and fertiliser. In addition to affordable quality inputs, farmers are being trained in good and climate-smart agricultural practices to maximise yields. Combined with extension services, the kits have a verified performance that secures a successful start. Keeping the risk of failure low is crucial and tackling setbacks is part of the support.
Normally, irrigation equipment is, if available at all, sold in big quantities and is far beyond the reach of farmers struggling to feed their own family. We provide the equipment in affordable quantities, fitting the description ‘all you need and only what you need’. The installation of the kit is done by our so-called ‘agri-preneurs’ – local persons who are given the training to sell and support the installation of the kits.
QUICK PAYBACK FOR THE FARMER
The challenge in growing maize, for example, is the length of time between each harvest and the risk of oversupply and low prices. Entry-level investment kits will therefore focus on crops with short growing seasons to create a steady cash flow. The need for logistics is initially kept as low as possible by selecting products of high value to local customers. By keeping the incremental investments small and the payback period short, a habit of reinvesting some of the profit can be established right from the start.
A pre-packaged solution with verified performance in terms of cash return is offered to release a potential of which the farmer already is the owner in terms of land, access to some water and own work capacity. No matter how effective the new practice is, the resistance to change is a real barrier that we want to overcome by building on what is already in place, and by matching this with a low-risk effort that leaves enough cash on the table to take the next step.