Wednesday April 30 2014

Farmers linked to input dealers

An equipment supplier demonstrates how the motorised spray

An equipment supplier demonstrates how the motorised spray pump works. PHOTO BY LOMINDA AFEDRARU 

By Lominda Afedraru

Farmers growing crops ranging from fruits, cereals, legumes and vegetables now have the benefit of getting agro-input services directly on their farms. This could be quality seed as well as application of fertilisers and herbicides and spray pumps.

Under an initiative by Usaid’s Feed the Future Agricultural Inputs Activity, the project is being implemented in various parts of the country.

“Famers have been faced with the challenge of fake seeds and counterfeit agro-inputs. This is why we came in to link them to the right suppliers of these products,” says Ronald Rwakigumba, the team leader, who is coordinating the project in Mubende, Mityana, Kyenjonjo Kabarole districts.

“As we were sensitising the farmers on how to go about with this challenge, some farmers [in Kasanda Sub county, Mubende District] requested us to link them to a spray equipment service provider. This is the reason why we have linked a dealer here to a wholesaler in Kampala to purchase motorised spray equipment.,” he added.

Access inputs and services
In addition, the team sensitises the farmers on good farming practices and encourage district agricultural officers to share information on community radio stations

Joseph Kisitu, from Nkumbi Terimba Farmers Centre, a farmer and inputs dealer in Kasanda, was identified as the focal person through whom the farmers can access inputs and spraying services.

Kisitu grows maize, beans, tomatoes, vegetables, eucalyptus, coffee and banana on his 25-acre land in Lusana village, Kasanda Sub County, Mubende District.

He used to own 10 manual spray pumps, which he hired out at Shs4,000 each. Now, he has a motorised spray that is hired at Shs7,500.
A motorised spray pump has the advantage of saving time as well as economising the amount of chemical used. It can cover an acre, which is not the case with manual pumps.

Kisitu has employed six persons, most of whom are youth, on his farm. He pays them Shs45,000 to Shs50,000 for weeding depending on amount of the work and Shs10,000 per spraying job. They also provide spray services to other farmers in the village.
“In November last year, the project team came here to sensitise us on proper application of inputs on our farms. They also told us about the advantages of using motorised spray pumps in our fields and this is the reason why I have purchased the equipment from Ssembeguya Estates at Shs1.5m at a discount of Shs300,000 off the usual cost price,” Kisitu says.

Conduct as a business
Sulaiman Ddumba, a sales representative at Ssembeguya Estates, says when agro-input dealers are linked to them via the project, they usually sell at a discount so that they may benefit from its usage.
The company not only sells spraying equipment ranging from manual to motorised but they also breed goats and cattle at their farm in Sembabule District.

The animals are sold to the farmers at different prices ranging from Shs300,000 to Shs2.2m in the case of the goats and from Shs950,000 to Shs1.2m for cattle depending on the variety.

In all, this flow of this chain from suppliers to dealers and to the farmers is what the project aims to achieve.

This is the way farmers can be helped in conducting their farming activities differently from the traditional way of tilling the land and planting the crops then waiting for their harvest. Instead, they should begin to conduct it as a business that incurs and can make profits.

Muzafalu Kimera, William Kazibwe and Charles Kasibante, who are employees of Nkumbi Terimba Farmers Centre, narrate their success stories and experience of providing spraying services to the farmers in the .

“I am 22 years old and I came all the way from Busia to this village to look for a better income-earning initiative and I think providing spray service to farmers is something good because I am a farmer myself. We earn Shs1,500 from every spray pump,” he says.

Kasibante, who is a family man with eight children, says his life has changed a great deal. He has so far purchased two plots of land, which is an addition to the original two he owned before he got into the spraying service business.

From the proceeds, he also pays for the education of his children. He is also involved in cultivating maize and beans for additional income.
Kimera, 19, says he has gained knowledge through their spray service initiative. He is now capable of identifying which spray is appropriate for which crop.
Previously for the case of herbicide application, the team would conduct it on trial and error. But now they are well versed with knowledge about every herbicide including application of fertilisers.