As the programmes have progressed and evolved lessons are being captured that are being used to help guide and in some cases re-direct elements of the programmes. Some of the key experiences include:
The availability of the Innovative Grant Facility under the Inputs Partnership has been instrumental to the successful start of relaible and regular Consignment Credit offered by suppliers to ago-dealers.
In early 2020 the Norwegian Embassy granted the Inputs Partnership to reallocate funds to kick start larger fertilizer consignments to selected agrodealers within the clusters The project introduced an inputs startup kit facility for selected agro-dealers. This is matched with the provision of inputs on revolving credit consignment by Yara, Bayer and K2Seeds. To date the total volume of seeds supplied under the programme is about 6 mt however seed supplied on credit consignment has almost doubled. While the total value of fertilizer supplied under startup kit was about MZN 1.5 million the fertilizer supplied on revolving consignment credit was nearly four times this. This is particularly because Yara decided to increase the revolving credit limit for each agro-dealer. The Partnership is now actively looking at how the facility can be transitioned into a commercial programme that is managed by a local financial institution.
Ensuring time, adequate resources and attention to detail are provided when addressing post cyclone infrastructure rehabilitation
Although there was considerable damage brought about by Cyclone Idai BAGC mobilised funds reallocated by the Norwegian Embassy to rehabilitate the irrigation systems and replacement of small bridge and dam infrastructure. Some time was taken to ensure that engineers and builders with the correct background and expereince were hired to complete the work. Given the widespread damage across the region this took time. However, the project completed rehabilitation of works and restored to full functionality 13 schemes. This has lead to better utilisation of irrigable areas during 2021. The recent cyclones that affected the Corridor in late 2020 and early 2021, although being distructive did not cause material damage to the newly constructed dams and bridges.
Outgrower schemes provide an opportunity to boost smallholder agricultural productivity and marketing when well designed. Two outgrower schemes supported by the facility were very successful. A common element of these schemes is that i) the outgrower businesses are strategically aligned with that of the anchor business, ii) the businesses have established processing factories and present low risk of abandoning the outgrower scheme and, iii) the businesses are mature and have the necessary interest (commercially and from a corporate responsibility perspective) to make it a success.
Outgrower schemes generally fail with start-up businesses or where such outgrower activities do not form part of the core business model of the promotor.
The BAGC is seeing a number of smallholder outgrower schemes failing largely due to the fact that the anchor business did not have sufficient conditions to host outgrower businesses. In many cases promotors of the businesses are asked to take on outgrowing activities as a condition for accessing concessionary funds. However there is no immediate alignment or shared vision with the promotors on the strategic relevance of these outgrower schemes to their businesses.
Availability of marketing infrastructure such as small packing warehouses is an important element for smallholder farmers to successfully market their produce.
At least 4 main off-takers have shown interest in the Inputs Partnership and could absorb most of the horticultural production from the irrigation schemes, since the demand outpaces current production. A key challenge is the ability to meet off-takers’ demands and availability of seasonal food all year round and delivery logistics to the various sites. A key requirement to access these markets is that produce needs to be sorted, handled and delivered in a manner that observes good hygienic standards which can only be guaranteed through a modern packhouse. The project is now determining the viability of establishing packhouses at the irrigation schemes and analysing ownership models.