Bridging the Agricultural Supply Gap in Rural Ethiopia

To address the lack of affordable quality supplies in remote farming communities, USAID, through its five-year Graduation with Resilience to Achieve Sustainable Development activity, developed a private agro-dealership model, creating sales hubs for essential supplies at the local level.

Between October 2015 and September 2016, the Care-implemented activity recruited and trained 32 agro-dealers who sold approximately $240,000 worth of supplies, primarily livestock feed, vegetable seed, and simple tools to 45,000 customers.

Video Transcript 
1 00:00:00,000 --> 00:00:15,000 [traditional music] 2 00:00:15,500 --> 00:00:20,000 Graduation with Resilience to Achieve Sustainable Development, or GRAD, 3 00:00:20,000 --> 00:00:29,000 is a five-year, USAID-funded project that seeks to graduate at least 50,000 households from the government safety net program. 4 00:00:29,000 --> 00:00:38,000 Core access to quality agricultural inputs at affordable prices has been a major constraint for smallholder farmers in project areas. 5 00:00:38,500 --> 00:00:41,000 To buy agricultural inputs like seed and livestock feed, we previously had to travel far, to Hawassa City. 6 00:00:41,000 --> 00:00:46,000 Sometimes we asked people travelling to the city to buy us the inputs to minimize the cost and avoid the fuss of going there. 7 00:00:46,000 --> 00:00:58,000 But even with all this expense and effort, we were still not getting good harvests from the inputs. 8 00:00:58,000 --> 00:01:05,000 There were no local input suppliers before the project. We fed our goats tree branches and grass. 9 00:01:05,000 --> 00:01:11,000 We kept the goats for a long period before selling as they did not gain weight quickly. 10 00:01:11,000 --> 00:01:15,000 The current input supply system in the country uses a top-down approach 11 00:01:15,000 --> 00:01:21,000 and this is heavily concentrated with a supply of fertilizers and improved seed for major share crops, 12 00:01:21,000 --> 00:01:29,000 and this does very little to assure the diverse input supply for small scale farmers who are located at the bottom of the pyramid. 13 00:01:30,000 --> 00:01:36,000 To address this gap, GRAD introduced private agro-dealers in each project district. 14 00:01:36,000 --> 00:01:42,000 The project recruited the agro-dealers from the local community based on their experience and aptitude for business. 15 00:01:42,000 --> 00:01:49,000 Each new agro-dealer was provided technical training related to the inputs they would sell 16 00:01:49,000 --> 00:01:55,000 and basic business management skills such as record-keeping, product promotion, and marketing. 17 00:01:56,000 --> 00:02:04,000 The project also helped them to establish or renovate their shops, assess local demand for inputs, and linked them with suppliers. 18 00:02:04,000 --> 00:02:07,000 We sell inputs at reasonable price in quantities that farmers can afford. 19 00:02:07,000 --> 00:02:16,500 For instance, we sell vegetable seed in small quantities for 10-20 birr (or less than one USD). 20 00:02:17,000 --> 00:02:21,000 Promoting the products they sell is key to the success of the business. 21 00:02:21,000 --> 00:02:25,000 Agro-dealers use different mechanisms to promote their business. 22 00:02:25,000 --> 00:02:35,000 We explain the value of the inputs at different training given to the farmers. 23 00:02:35,000 --> 00:02:50,000 We take samples of inputs and explain to the farmer association how to use the inputs, their benefits, and prices. 24 00:02:50,000 --> 00:02:59,000 I promote my products during market days and on FM radio. 25 00:02:59,000 --> 00:03:12,000 I also demonstrate the inputs on model farmer plots so that other farmers can learn through observation. 26 00:03:12,000 --> 00:03:17,000 Following the opening of agro-dealer shops in all 16 GRAD woredas (districts), 27 00:03:17,000 --> 00:03:26,000 there have been visible changes in production and productivity of GRAD and non-GRAD households that buy and use the inputs regularly. 28 00:03:27,000 --> 00:03:34,000 There have been a lot of positive changes since an agro-dealer started selling inputs close by. 29 00:03:34,000 --> 00:03:39,000 We can now buy quality inputs close to home. 30 00:03:39,000 --> 00:03:49,000 This helps us to get more production and better income. 31 00:03:49,000 --> 00:03:59,000 I use savings to buy improved feed for my goats. We are getting better production. 32 00:03:59,000 --> 00:04:06,000 There were remarkable results after we started buying inputs from the agro-dealer. 33 00:04:07,000 --> 00:04:10,000 Our goats gain enough weight in just three months. 34 00:04:10,000 --> 00:04:13,000 GRAD will be phased out in the coming few months. 35 00:04:13,000 --> 00:04:20,000 However, it seems that sustainability will not be an issue for agro-dealership schemes, like most components of the project. 36 00:04:20,000 --> 00:04:28,000 Households know well the benefits of using the inputs. 37 00:04:28,000 --> 00:04:37,000 The high demand will allow me to continue expanding my business. 38 00:04:37,000 --> 00:04:46,000 In the project, we've had successes, you know, in linking agro-dealers with the local agriculture offices. 39 00:04:46,000 --> 00:04:56,000 In some instances, these agro-dealers are working with the agriculture office, serving as the major input supplier for improved seeds. 40 00:04:57,000 --> 00:05:06,000 These linkages, we believe, contribute significantly for the sustainability of the agro-dealers even after the project phases out. 41 00:05:06,000 --> 00:05:13,000 We have a plan to expand our farm as there are now no problems with input supply. 42 00:05:13,000 --> 00:05:16,000 Now we are so inspired to invest more. 43 00:05:16,000 --> 00:05:45,000 [traditional music]

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Last updated: March 28, 2017

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