Last month the three core Inputs Partners under the guidance of the BAGC secretariat conducted a new set of field days in the Rotanda Irrigation scheme.

The scheme is about 420 hectares and supports some 250 farmers and their families. Core crops include cabbages, baby corn, onions and common beans all of which are sold to local markets.

The day began with a gathering of over 100 participants including farmers from seven smallholder producer’s associations in the region. The Government was also represented by the Heads of Rotanda Administration and Mussapa locality. Three of the main agrodealers (Rotanda and Sussundenga) were also on hand to provide technical knowledge and help in the setting up of the field day.

Three commercial partners, Yara, K2 Seed and Bayer were on hand to answer farmers questions and present findings of the demonstration plots that they with AFAP and BAGC Secretariat have been organising.  The commercial partners presented the findings of an onion planting and production programme using  two 20 by 40 metre plots; one conducted under traditional  farmer practices  and the other under the commercial partners input recommendations.

The farmers were introduced to the inputs partners’ recommendations for increased onion yields (improved seed, increased fertilizer and crop protection applications at seedling transplant stage, vegetative and bulb formation).  Working with the inputs partners farmers were invited to help harvest the demonstration plots and assess the yields.

After harvest the partners worked with the farmer associations to assess and compare yields and costs between the Input Partners’ plot and those of the traditional producer’s association plot.  Yields had increased fivefold and because of the increased size of bulb quality was enhanced thereby commanding higher sales prices.

Costs had increased because of the use of quality inputs however the overall yields and better sales prices meant that net profits for farmers had increased over 40-fold. A 0.2 ha plot traditionally used by farmers to grow onions would yield about Mts 320,000 ($5,000) compared to a net profit commonly  made by farmers in the associations of some Mts 8,000 ($130).

Farmers were impressed by the yields and potential increased revenues. The Inputs Partnership is working with farmers at Rotanda as well as other irrigation schemes in Manica and Sofala to encourage good agricultural practices with better quality inputs. However, they recognise that these revenues cannot be achieved by production improvements alone. That is why the Inputs Partnership is working hard to ensure that quality inputs are made available locally at agrodealers who have been trained in both technical and business management skills. With BAGC and AFAP coordinating agrodealer support and Prorustica working to create better access to new finance facilities and markets shows that the Inputs Partnership is supporting a whole value chain approach that will lead to improved farm family livelihoods.