Smallholder farmers in the Boucle du Mouhoun, Cascades, and Sud-Ouest regions of Burkina Faso do not need to travel long distances any more to purchase improved seeds. FAGRI, a seed company funded by AGRA, has found an innovative way of reaching thousands of them with quality improved seeds of millet, sorghum, rice, maize, and cowpea in the right quantity and at the right time. This was learned by a team of AGRA staff and reporters from key media outlets in Burkina Faso, on a tour of AGRA projects in the country.
The idea of establishing kiosks in strategic locations in the regions came from Issaka Kolga, General Manager of FAGRI, as a result of [insufficient seed distribution outlets in remote farming communities] which makes it difficult for farmers to access and use quality seed of improved varieties he produces. To him, there are two basic reasons for devising this strategy ─ to reduce the distance traveled by farmers to secure improved seeds, and to conserve the quality of the improved seeds to achieve their potential, and to promote the use of improved seeds. There are 46 of such kiosks scattered across the three regions, to serve farmers’ seed needs.
During a farming season, for instance, the kiosk at Houndé in the Tuy province serves farmers from villages such as Koumbia, Boni, Koti, Bereba, Kere, Banhoun, and Pe, which are within 30 km radius. The manager of the kiosk and a technician go round these farming communities to promote improved varieties, receive requests from farmers, and stock accordingly to supply to the farmers at the right time. Seeds from the kiosks are in high demand because of their affordable cost and quality. “The government sells subsidized seeds at CFA1,500/kg (USD3.00), but we sell at CFA1,250/kg (USD2.50), and the quality of our seeds are assured,” said Mr. Issaka Kolga.
Abdou Moumouni Guiro, a farmer at Houndé in the Boucles du Mouhoun region, confirmed to reporters that before the kiosk system started operating, he had to travel about 100 Km to BoBo Dioulasso each time to buy quality seeds, or wait for a long time for government subsidized seeds. Unfortunately, the latter never came at the right time, and in the required quantity. The FAGRI kiosk, to him, has resolved these problems. “FAGRI seeds are readily available, high-yielding, and of high quality. They are packed in various quantities to meet the cost and quantity needs of everybody. We no longer need to travel long distances to buy seeds,” he said.
A similar testimonial was given to reporters at Kouere, a village the Cascades region, 100 km from Banfora near Sidéradougou. Bibata Kassongo, a kiosk manager, said sales in the kiosk increases from time to time as a result of the yields obtained from seeds sold to farmers. “Farmers come from all over the place to buy seeds from me. Some come from Malfile, Bade, Sanfule, Woyo, and Dougoula. This increases my revenue. I make 500 FCFA ($1.00)/10kg. I sold a total of 10MT of improved seeds this year,” she told reporters.
“I was motivated to introduce the kiosk system because I realized that the quality of most seeds used by farmers was affected by unnecessary exposure, and unprofessional handling. This was affecting farmers’ yields. On market days, for instance, seeds were displayed on the market anyhow. The kiosks help us preserve the quality of the seeds by providing a relatively cooler environment, so farmers benefit from the high-yielding potential of the seeds. They now buy whatever quantity they need at a particular time, knowing that seeds are always available, and also very close to them,” said Mr. Issaka Kolga.
AGRA believes that one way of increasing farmers’ yields and incomes is by making improved seeds accessible, affordable, and adaptable to as many farmers as possible. The presence of these kiosks in farming communities is promoting the use of improved seeds, and thereby increasing productivity and revenues of farmers. In the past, the use of improved seeds was low among many farmers in this part of the country, because they did not have access to the seeds. The kiosk system is, therefore, helping the dissemination and commercialization of improved seeds. Farmers have the opportunity to choose the seeds they want to cultivate.