Building commercial relationships between input suppliers and forage producers - Madagascar
|Source : Land O’Lakes - Land O’Lakes|
Since Land O’Lakes initiated the USDA funded Food for Progress Dairy Value Chain Development Project in 2008, farmers have reignited their interest in improving their dairy production activities.
Awareness creation among farmers on the benefits of forage production is a priority of the project particularly to assure sustainability of dairy production activities. The supply of improved seed and inputs to farmers is key to success in stabilizing production (quantity and quality) throughout the year.
With the objective to build commercial relationships between input suppliers and fodder producers, the project organized meetings between the two stakeholder groups. The Fanantenana Association, benefiting from the project’s support over the past year, participated in the meetings held in August 2008. Founded in 2008 and composed of 22 members, the association’s objective is to the increase member income through dairy production activities.
Members are all dairy farmers who also produce forage seed for their own produce forage seeds for their animal feed needs as well as for sale to other interested farmers. In the past, farmer members were not aware of what forage species they were actually cultivating. They hadn’t worked with input suppliers and just obtained seeds from each another. There was no expansive forage cultivation; only small plots adjacent to their food crop production fields.
Members continue to cultivate forage, and are applying new production and management strategies: one third of forage produced is allocated to the producer’s cows, one third sold, with proceeds deposited into the association’s account, and the final third sold to reimburse seeds provided by LOL.
Farmers, previously cautious of establishing contracts with any entity, have found that the contact meetings greatly facilitated the business relationships. The association recently confirmed receipt of a two month sales contract for green fodder with Dr. Harifidy, a local veterinarian at 100Ar. (5 US cents) per kilogram. Unfortunately, the group underestimated their yields and could only provide forage for one month. Now they have a new contract for green fodder with Dr. Rémi Fidel, a farmer and president of a cooperative FANIRY in Antampon'i Vinany. In addition, after organizing exchange visits between farmers, 19 participants are ready to sign contracts for sale of forage seed in the coming days. The association’s collaboration with Land O'Lakes has convinced 40% of people in their surrounding area to produce forage as they see it as a pillar for dairy development.
These achievements in forage production not only have involved association members, but other farmers throughout 12 municipalities in the two districts of Ambositra and Fandriana. The Land O'Lakes extension agent has reported seed orders from over 500 interested farmers, 149 of which have contracted with three suppliers: FIFAMANOR, COFRA and Taratra MIABO Cooperative MIABO.
The next step is to improve business skills of the forage producers, such as calculating the cost and benefits of their forage plots.