Strengthening input retailers to provide quality services to farmers
Input retailers can be an important source of both supplies and knowledge for farmers, but only if they are professional enough to provide those services. Together with CNFA and the IFC, we are strengthening input retailers to strengthen the whole value chain.
The difficulty in finding quality inputs
If farmers want to reach their full output potential, they need high-quality inputs, like seeds and fertilizer. However, many farmers do not trust input retailers or do not know how to find the best input retailers. Instead, they use their own inputs, which can result in lower yields. Some farmers may have good reason to be wary of input retailers; research in Uganda, supported by the IGC and the Swedish Research Council, found that the quality of many inputs was lower than retailers claimed. Where exactly things went wrong is unknown, but the result was that farmers did not use or trust retailers’ inputs.
How to help input retailers improve
Farmers need inputs and knowledge, and input retailers can serve as a source of both. However, that is only possible if the retailers are skilled, professional, and trustworthy. For this reason, CNFA, alongside the IFC, worked with SCOPEinsight to develop the Last Mile Retailer (LMR), a complete solution for strengthening input retailers. This solution helps strengthen input retailers so that downstream farmers benefit and upstream suppliers have reliable partners.
The LMR is a complete solution consisting of SCOPEinsight’s Input Retailer assessment and the IFC’s Last Mile Retailer curriculum. The assessment evaluates the professionalism of the input retailer. It shows their business strengths and weaknesses. Next, the retailers receive training to address their weaknesses. CNFA and the IFC have co-created a training curriculum tailored to the specific input retailers. After the training comes coaching. Here, a trained coach supports the input retailers as they figure out how to use their new skills. The final step is improving performance, where the input retailers take specific action to improve their market performance and gain the benefits of becoming more professional and knowledgeable.
Implementing Last Mile Retailer in Rwanda
Since 2017, CNFA has led the USAID Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze Activity. The goal of this program is to create sustainable change that will improve the lives of Rwandan farmers. One of the three approaches is increasing sustainable agricultural productivity. As part of this approach, CNFA has been working to improve input retailers in the area. They have assessed specific retailers with our SCOPE Input Retailer tool, and these retailers will receive targeted assistance based on the results of their assessments.
In two districts, CNFA has begun piloting an input-credit scene that will allow participants to gain technical knowledge on the best agricultural practices and product knowledge on the best agricultural products. This has been an enormous success. So far, 318 agro-dealers have enrolled in the scheme. They can take this knowledge and pass it onto the farmers they work with, which has helped farmers double their harvest.
CNFA has also helped 79 agro-dealers access loans worth over $277,242. These loans allowed the agro-dealers to provide inputs to farmers on credit that they would not otherwise afford. After the harvest, the farmers were able to repay their loans. Over three months, they were able to help 1,838 farmers access inputs worth $38,419. Over a single season, one agro-dealer was able to extend credit to 42 farmers, who could then pay her back after they had reaped the benefits of the high-quality inputs, instead of struggling to pay for inputs before the harvest.
A future for professional input retailers
Clearly, the work done by CNFA in Rwanda is causing positive change, both for input retailers and the farmers with whom they work. Improving and professionalizing input retailers sets off many beneficial ripples down the entire value chain. If you want to help as many people as possible, using the Last Mile Retailer to strengthen input retailers is an excellent place to start.
Are you interested in strengthening input retailers? Contact us today to find out how we can help you achieve impressive project results.Back to news