Teso Farmers is a farmers’ group cultivating soyabean in Busia Kenya. This group is linked to the platform WeRATE. George Otanga tells the story of how he commenced the group and how he envisages farmers can benefit from economies of scale in soyabean production.
I commenced commercial farming by working on 20 acres of leased land in South Teso on my own. The owners of the leased land were my field managers. However, the crop was destroyed by floods. During the long rains this year I changed my strategy and I worked on five acres. Two acres were my own property and three other farmers had one acre available each: two in Teso and one in Mumias. I supplied the three farmers with Biofix inoculants, Sympal fertilizer and seeds as a loan, deductible after harvest.
|Next season, after El Nino, I plan to expand the farming in partnership with someone who believes in my work ethics. Our philosophy will be to form a community based organization (CBO) covering the three counties with five acres of our own and 25 acres belonging to satellite farmers in our nucleus group. We have opted to invest in 30 acres, five in Mumias, thirteen in Teso and twelve in Budalangi. The group will be formalised and registered as a CBO. When the name is accepted by the director of Social Services it will be provided to WeRATE for their records.
Using my previous model we will supply seeds, Biofix and Sympal to fifteen farmers in our Nucleus. We expect the farmers to do their own weeding. After harvest we will buy their produce at an equitable agreed price. We will deduct the costs of the inputs and pay the net margins depending on agreed price from the consolidating processor.
This business model comes out of my experience that soyabean is only profitable as a large-scale group activity. Because most farmers in Western Kenya are peasants they cannot succeed without technical and financial support.
We expect 20 group members, of which at least five women and two youth. One of the youth lives in Mumias. This person is below 30 years and a graduate with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Nairobi. Currently without a job but with an inheritance of eleven acres of family land this person is willing to devote five acres to soyabean cultivation.
The key achievements that we aim for are group synergy and profits based on volumes. Farmers freely and willingly provide land in exchange for seeds and fertilisers and we all gain from the produced volumes.
George Otanga, WeRATE member and commercial farmer