Six Main Insights from the AgriVijana Project
Photo source: AgriVijana Facebook page
AgroCares was one of the partners in the AgriVijana Project, along with ProPortion Foundation, Vijana Reloaded and SNV. The aim of the project was to create a business model that Kenyan young people can adopt and replicate. AgroCares supplied the technology used by the young agripreneurs to offer soil testing as a service. As the project reached its end earlier this year, we would like to share with you the six main insights.
Before creating the AgriVijana business model, extensive research was conducted to gain better understanding of the context and the needs of the farmers. One of the goals of the research was to collect insights into farmers’ perception of soil testing services and the circumstances that influence the adoption of fertilizer recommendations.
Two-week field research was carried out in Nairobi, Njoro, Molo and Nakuru town. The study included interviews with youth, farmers, technology solution providers and other stakeholders. Six insights were identified by clustering the data from the interviews and desk research.
Six Main Insights
Insight #1: There is a need in Nakuru for affordable soil testing services that provide farmers with direct fertilizer recommendations.
The data shows that farmers are purchasing the same fertiliser every year without doing any soil testing. Farmers expressed keen interest in AgroCares sensor-based soil testing when they learned about the quick result. They were pleasantly surprised to have the soil report ready within 10 minutes.
Insight #2: Providing farmers with financing options or better access to inputs would increase the adoption rate of soil test recommendations.
Most farmers buy their inputs individually and therefore pay premium prices. As a result, farmers purchase cheaper fertilizers or too few fertilizers. Furthermore, some type of fertilizers, for example lime are rarely available in rural areas. Improving farmer’s access to financial services and inputs will increase the adoption of fertilizer recommendations.
Insight #3: To ensure a sustainable increase in soil fertility and yields farmers would benefit from adopting a range of good agricultural practices in addition to the right fertilizers.
There are practices that can improve soil fertility in addition to fertilization, such as green manure, crop rotation with legumes, composting, lime application,etc. However, farmers often lack knowledge on these topics. Hence, improving farmers’ knowledge on good agricultural practices can greatly improve soil fertility.
Photo source: AgriVijana Facebook page
Insight #4: Farmers need support with farm planning and better insight in their finances, to increase their ability to make informed decisions for their farm.
Farmers do not have an overview of their cash flow and as a result they do not have the opportunity to optimise it. Moreover, investing in the farm could be more attractive for farmers if they understand the increase in yields and income that it would create.
Insight #5: Farmers lack access to trustworthy and customized information to know about the wide range of different agricultural products and services that are available and suitable for their farm.
Farmer meetings are often organized by commercial companies who are promoting their own products. Farmers see them as a subjective source of information and feel a lack of trustworthy information.
Insight #6: There is need for expert support services for farmers due to a lack of capacity and resources of governmental extension officers.
The number of extension officers is rapidly decreasing due to governmental budget cuts. For example, at the moment there are only 15 officers in Molo sub county for approximately 27.000 farm families. Farmers have indicated that the support they receive from extension officers is not enough.
More about the AgriVijana Project
The AgriVijana Project is a one-year project that reached its end in April 2019. The business case development is led by ProPortion Foundation,the business case is implemented and owned by Vijana Reloaded, a social business for entrepreneurship training for youth in Kenya. Partners in the project are AgroCares, providing digital soil testing technology and SNV, bringing in expertise in innovative agricultural services & network. The project is made possible with funding of SNV HortImpact and Rabobank Medewerkersfonds.