Value chain refers to all activities that is involved in getting a product to the market, each activity adding value at different stages. These activities include those before actual production, during production, and even after production. Every product has its value chain. In agriculture, the ultimate goal of the farmer is to get his produce to market at good price. However, to get to the stage of harvesting and having produce to sell he is faced with a lot of challenges to overcome. And where there is/are challenges there are opportunities. Below are some activities in agricultural production which form part of the value chain, helps farmers, agro-allied companies, industries and the final consumer achieve their goals.
Input Supply: The farmer desires good yield from his crops and livestock. To achieve this he needs seeds/seedlings, fertilizers/organic manure, water supply especially during the dry season, weed and pest control etc. On the other hand are agro-allied companies looking to reach as many farmers as possible and seeking distributors for improved seeds/seedlings, fertilizers, herbicides etc. Bridging the gap between these two groups is an important position in the value chain and a potential source of sustained income.
Challenges of being a distributor/input supplier: Getting market: this can be overcome by liaising with farmers in the villages, studying their farming activities and challenges, establishing a good relationship with them. This may require that you spend more time in the village to understand the farming environment better or work closely with someone who does and decide which inputs would best suit the needs of the farming community.
Capital: start small, know the product of the company you are promoting, see it work and tested, work closely with all resources provided by the seed company.
In the case of livestock, inputs that can be supplied include day old chicks (broilers, cockerels, pullets), point of lay birds, feed, fish fingerlings, etc. Many poultry farmers would prefer to have someone source their initial stock rather than travel to the hatchery and go through the stress, provided they are certain of the quality of birds being supplied to them. The major challenge to overcome here is getting a good hatchery to source day old birds or a good farm for point of lay birds where it is certain that all necessary vaccines have been administered and birds sold are actually entering the laying phase. Once trust is built with your farmers, you are in business. For capital, the arrangement in most cases is such that the farmers book the number of birds needed and part or all payment is made in advance.
Water Supply is another very important aspect in crop farming. One of the major challenges of our agricultural production is the dependence on natural rainfall. This causes a hike in food prices during the dry season as few farmers have access to water for irrigation. Investing in the creation of a water supply system to farmers in a region would assure constant production all year round and even during the rainy season especially in areas experiencing delayed and reduced rainfall due to effects of climate change.
To every problem there is a solution if you can apply yourself to look closely and think opportunity. Nigeria’s agriculture and indeed Africa in general, currently faces a lot of challenges, with great opportunities for income generation, hence the increasing attention received. The key is to fix yourself along the value chain least exploited, and also associate with systems/organizations that can get you through the bottlenecks.
Look forward to 2nd part of this article.
Article by: SCOTTS FARMS
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