Soybeans for Smallholders
2SCALE partnerships are helping to build value chains for non-traditional crops, creating new markets for smallholder farmers and new lines of business for agri-enterprises. One example is our work with Agro Commercial Olinda Fondo (ACOF), a woman-headed trading and processing firm with farmer networks in Zambezia and Nampula provinces in Mozambique. Three years ago, ACOF successfully introduced sesame and pigeonpea cultivation in Zambezia. In 2015 the company expanded into soybeans, targeting markets in the food and poultry feed industries.
2SCALE field teams worked with ACOF to mobilize farmer groups and begin training programs for farmers, agrodealers and extension staff. Other partners include the NGO Agrimerc (agrodealer networks) and private fertilizer companies Green Belt and Omnia. The program began with one cluster in Malema district, Nampula. Today, the Malema cluster has 2,000 registered farmers organized in 75 cooperatives. A new cluster in Dhere, Zambezia, has more than 100 women farmers. Both clusters use ‘block plots’, where farmers combine their individual fields into a larger area (typically 20-30 ha), creating economies of scale and making it easier to organize training programs and deliver farm inputs. Each cluster hosts several training-and-demonstration plots showcasing new varieties and management practices.
ACOF provides farmers with seeds, fertilizers and other inputs, such as Rhizobium inoculants that stimulate the plant’s ability to ‘fix’ nitrogen. Ongoing training programs have built farmer capacity in production methods and post-harvest handling. Green Belt has trained more than 1,000 farmers and agrodealers on fertilizer and Rhizobium use. The next round of training, beginning in early 2017, will focus on business model, planning and budgeting. Omnia has completed a soil testing program, analyzing more than 800 soil samples from farmers’ fields, and is using the data to develop fertilizer blends specifically for potatoes in these areas.
2SCALE signed a partnership agreement with Novos Horizontes, a poultry company based in Rapale, Nampula province; and brokered an agreement under which ACOF will supply Novos Horizontes with 500 tons of soya per season. With markets assured, partners on board and farmers already having tasted profits, expect the soybean industry to grow rapidly in 2017.