Smallholder farmers from in Shinyanga are showing interest in adopting hybrid sunflower seed varieties. In Ngokolo Village in Ushetu District Council, farmers received 1kg of Hysun 33 hybrid sunflower seed from Bytrade for establishing their demo plot. Following agronomic training, also led by Bytrade, the villagers established a half-acre demo plot on the lead farmer’s land (Mr. Makunga). During a follow up visit, Mr. Makunga proudly showed off the demo plot stating that, “There are huge growth differences between the local recycled seeds we normally plant and the Hysun 33 seed variety which we were given by Bytrade”.
He also pointed out that because they had planted the Hysun 33 sunflower seeds properly using agronomic practices training they had been taught, the seeds still germinated even with little rainfall. “The seeds still emerged even though there was not much rain after planting. We also used fewer seeds to plant a large area. When we use local seed we use more seed because we don’t know if the seeds will germinate or not”.
The following table shows the differences between Hysun 33 variety and local varieties as observed by the lead farmer.
Days in germination and emergence of seedling
Days to 2,4 leaves appearance
Days to initial flower bud development
Oil seed development stage
Even at this early stage, smallholder farmers in Ngokolo Village are showing interest in using Hysun 33 hybrid seed. We anticipate that smallholder farmers will purchase promoted hybrid seed varieties in the next planting season.
Partnering with Local Agro-Dealers to Strengthen Sunflower Value Chain
When you meet forty-three-year old Abdalla Saidi Luyaya, owner of Luyaya Kilimo Kwanza business in Nachingwea, it’s easy to think that he was born with a golden spoon in his mouth. However, Abdalla’s story is far from that, he comes from a humble background, and started his agro-dealership business as a hawker. From moving on foot, hawking items from place to place, he managed to buy a bicycle, which he used for some time, before upgrading to a motorcycle. When we meet up with Abdalla at one of his shops in Nachingwea town, he is driving a sleek four-wheel gold Kluger. His improved financial status, is courtesy of his passion for agriculture, the reason behind his business name – Kilimo Kwanza – which loosely translates to ‘Agriculture First’.’
Abdalla is one of the local agro-dealers in Nachingwea who is partnering with Aga Khan Foundation to create awareness and improve access to a variety of farm inputs, including hybrid sunflower seeds.
“My life changed when I first interacted with AKF. Through support from AKF, I went for a training at the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI), which empowered me and changed my business perspective. It was following this training that I opened my first shop,” Abdalla recounts.
As part of the Sunflower Market Development Project, AKF is partnering with local agro-dealers to create awareness about various farm inputs, including hybrid sunflower seeds. Agro-dealers are supported through access to information and knowledge and creating market linkages.
Under the project, AKF has adopted a market systems development approach and one of the tactics is to stimulate the market for improved sunflower seeds which have higher yield and higher oil content. Through this component AKF works with private sector seed companies and local agro-dealers to strengthen the access and distribution system for sunflower seeds to last mile.
During the first quarter of 2018, TPRI organized and facilitated a Pesticide Management training for agro-dealers. The training which was held in Masasi brought together 150 participants from Lindi and Mtwara regions. Agro-dealers and suppliers who successfully completed the training were issued with distribution and handling permits from TPRI. The aim of the course is to enhance participants’ understanding of pesticide handling, dosage, application, as well as ways to reduce exposure to harm while ensuring better results on the crops and environment.
“I have also travelled to Mbeya on a learning visit, courtesy of AKF. In Mbeya, I had the opportunity of visiting farmers and agro-dealers, to see what they were doing and pick lessons to improve my business and local agricultural practices in our area,” Abdalla recounts.
As part of the project, AKF has partnered with seed companies and extension workers to train farmers using a variety of sunflower seeds. As a result, 226 sunflower demo plots have been formed in the project areas. Following the various interventions both during project inception and the pilot there has been a marked increase in seed demand. This led to the procurement of a total of 810 kgs of hybrid and 3,300 kgs of OPV by smallholder farmers. A local seed company TEMNAR Co. Ltd sold 1,100 kgs of Record seeds resulting in an increase in the company’s seed sales. A total of 1,520 kgs of sunflower seeds (Record) have been sold through five agro-dealers – a significant increase in sales.
“I never used to sell seeds, and when AKF approached me to stock sunflower seeds, I was apprehensive. Farmers in this area never used to grow sunflower, and I was not too sure if there would be demand for the seeds. However, AKF assured me they would refer farmers to buy sunflower seeds. I agreed to stock the shop, albeit with a lot of apprehension and my initial investment was very minimal,” Abdalla recounts.
AKF linked Abdalla to Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA) from Morogoro, and the company supplied him with sunflower seeds. Shortly after farmers started buying and the demand has continued to grow, increasing Abdalla’s income significantly.
“When I started this business, we were only three agro-dealers in Nachingwea. Now, this number has grown to 15. People are keen to invest in this sector because they can see the benefits we are reaping. Part of this success is attributed to the opportunities that AKF and its partners have availed to agro-dealers. We have access to information that is helping us grow our businesses, we have knowledge to share with farmers in terms of handling farm inputs, and we have a ready market,” Abdalla says.
The story is the same, for 23-year-old Jasmine Julius a local agro-dealer in Ruangwa. At the age of 20 years, when many young people are still nestled in the comfort of their parents’ homes, Jasmine was bold enough to venture into a town far removed from her family and friends in Dar es Salaam to start a business.
Jasmine is another agro-dealer who is collaborating with AKF taking advantage of learning opportunities and exposure visits, to garner knowledge to grow her business and improve the agriculture sector in Ruangwa.
“When I started this business, I was more focused on stocking my shop with farm inputs for livestock. However, when I interacted with AKF, I went on an exposure visit to Dar es Salaam where I met other agro-dealers and learned from them their experiences. Since then I have been stocking various seeds including sunflower seeds,” Jasmine says.
“As more farmers begin to grow a variety of crops including sunflower, their need for various farm inputs is growing. This has called for innovation, and I have expanded my business, to include onsite delivery services,” Jasmine says.
Due to the expansive nature and terrain of the area, some farmers are far removed from the local town center where most agro-dealers are located. Jasmine has bought two vehicles and employed more staff to enable her deliver farm inputs to the villages.
Jasmine and Abdalla are both optimistic that their respective businesses will continue to grow.
“My life has changed significantly, and even though I am yet to reach my goal, I have been able to achieve some of my dreams. Because of my growing income, I have been able to build two modern homes, buy two vehicles, provide for my family and relatives, and I was even able to travel to Saudi Arabia for Hajj, a very important religious milestone for me as a Muslim,” Abdalla concludes.