One of the main aims of the BAGC Inputs Partnership is in helping farmers access good quality inputs that improve both productivity and product quality.
A total of 18 Associations are now being helped through training of farmers in good agricultural practices as well as through their participation in demonstration plots. Demonstration plots have been continually established. An important activity leading to the establishment of demo plots has been the promotion of farmer managed nurseries. The Inputs Partnership has facilitated the establishment of 44 nurseries over two production seasons.
One area that has been of particular interest to farmers is the development of demonstration plots that compare productivity of relevant crops that farmers currently produce versus those using the commercial partners’ inputs. Below is a table comparing 2019 yields of various crops grown by specific farmer organisations comparing them with plots using the commercial partners inputs applied at recommended rates. For some crops, like sugar beans, farmers obtained yields comparable to the inputs’ partners. However, for onions farmers were attaining only 20% of the yields using commercial partners inputs. Farmer yields were also lower than the inputs partners with green pepper yields at about 60% of inputs partners and on average 70% for cabbages
The commercial partners have played an active role in the demos. First, they have all provided inputs free of charge for each of the demonstration plots. Second, they have been active in the training process through their field representatives and have also actively participated in the field days to explain results as well as presenting relevant products on sale to farmers. Field days have also been an important event to establish business relationships particularly between the farmer organisation heads and the field agronomists.
Much discussion has been had on better farming practices and the responsible use of inputs. Of particular interest has been on the costs and benefits of inputs use and the scale of additional profit that farmers can make.
This work is continuing throughout 2020 with more intensive efforts on practical hands on training that help farmers increase quality to ensure more attractive off taker arrangements with buyers.