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What agro-dealers think – a survey from Northern Ghana

12 February 2017:GALA partner Green Ef has recently carried out surveys into the range of products being stocked by agro-dealers in Northern Ghana. They also recorded the comments made by the agro-dealers. These comments give us a useful insight into the opportunities and challenges perceived by the agro-dealers.

We asked Green Ef to share the comments they collected in the Northern Region of Ghana. This is where the Africa Soil Health Consortium is about to about to run a scale-up campaign to promote the use of soybean inputs and good agricultural practices. This gives us some useful background information and helps us to think about the sort of information that might need to be included in the campaign.

Agro-dealers showed a commitment to working to build up markets for inputs amongst individual farmers:

  • ‘Everything starts gradually all I will say is we tackle it gradually.  But am happy Green Ef has come.’
  • ‘If you are actually serious am ready to work with you’

A number of agro-dealers were concerned about pricing and affordability:

  • ‘I will be happy to work with you if your products and services are affordable’
  • ‘(It) is good Green Ef has come, I hope they will help the farmers, because most farmers complain of not having money to patronise farm inputs.’
  • ‘I also think that at the beginning if the prices can be moderate for the farmers to buy and try and if it works for them.’

 Agro-dealers stressed the need for inputs to be available at the right time:

  • ‘Please try and make available the product during the planting season’
  • ‘I will encourage a regular and timely supply of products and services’
  • ‘I will be grateful if your products and service are rendered on time and very consistent.’

Agro-dealers had concerns about the current level of awareness of the inputs being promoted:

  • The legume inoculant is a new product to me as well as the farmers. So, marketing it will be a problem since the farmers have not seen the performance.’
  • ‘It is very difficult selling products that are not known by the farmers, so I suggest we do some trials next season with the farmers involved.’
  • ‘Farmers are not aware of these products so I cant say much.  But I will do my best!’
  • ‘Good you have come, but farmers here have not tried it and I think that might slow down the sales.’

Agro-dealers set out their ideas for promotional approaches:

  • ‘Since the product is new what can we do to catch the attention of the farmers?’
  • ‘We should give them (farmers) sample to try themselves or setup demos in their areas’
  • ‘Most farmers have been complaining about their lands not performing as expected. I therefore wish to be part of any workshop organised to address their problems and find solutions.’
  • ‘Farmers here are difficult to deal with, they just want to see and believe.’
  • ‘Intensify the publicity’ and ‘Good you have come it will improve my market’
  • I think we need a practical demonstrations as to how the inoculant is applied other than the user manual, since most of the farmers are not educated.’
  • Conducting demonstrations on this particular product with the farmers involved will make a lot of good as well.’ I also wish that there would be a demonstration for farmers to see.’
  • ‘Use packages designs with pictures complimentary to legume as it is difficult to sell products without pictorial package designs’
  • ‘I am also the chairman of all the agro input dealers in this District so I will be happy to see you next season and also spread the Gospel of Green-EF to my people.’

Agro-dealers noted some challenges

  • NGOs have entered the market making it difficult for them to compete.’
  • ‘Some Sari staff ask farmers to buy from them instead of the agro-dealers.’

We are indebted to Green Ef for sharing this information ahead of the ASHC soybean campaign. This campaign is being planned now by CABI with IITA and our partners in Ghana including Green Ef themselves.