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Having developed and demonstrated the benefits of soybean inoculants in boosting the crop’s productivity in Malawi, the challenge then to ensure that the technology would be both available and affordable for farmers. Soybean inoculant, which adds nitrogen-fixing bacteria to the soil to improve its fertility, has been found to boost soybean yield by at least 40 to 50%. Other benefits include increasing the protein content of the grain—an increase of up to 40.6% if well inoculated. The project had been importing the inoculant Biofix from MEA, Kenya, for research and demonstration purposes. Previously the Government of Malawi, through the Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS), produced and supplied about 2000 sachets of an inoculant named “Soy” that was accessible to a limited number of farmers who would come to the research station to buy the product and for research.

Private sector to the rescue

The N2Africa project that had helped develop the inoculant with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture sought out private sector actors to partner in producing affordable inoculant in Malawi. Fredrick Kawalewale, a qualified accountant, quickly seized the business opportunity through his company Agro-Input Suppliers Limited (AISL). He invested in lab equipment and in 2014 AISL produced 20,000 sachets of Nitrofix inoculant as a pilot. “When we started, we improved the packaging and handling of Nitrofix. We invested in solar coolers for proper storage. From the first 20,000 sachets of 50 g, we have moved to 280,000 sachets managing to reach over 95,000 farmers. All this has happened within a space of three years. We are envisaging that we will reach 1 million sachets which will translate to about 350,000 farmers having access to the product in the next five years,” he said. Kawalewale, who holds an MBA, says his background gave him the opportunity to find practical solutions for farmers. “I did not need to be an agriculturalist to figure out that farmers face problems in the value chain. We needed to be doing things that serve the needs of farmers,” he said.

Quality assurance

To ensure that the inoculant meets the required standards, Kawalewale has set up a well-equipped, high-standard laboratory for production and testing, and excellent packaging for delivery to farmers. He is also currently constructing bigger facilities with robust laboratory equipment to increase production of the inoculant to cater for the whole of southern Africa and later, the world. AISL is also coming up with inoculants for beans and groundnut. Farmers in Malawi are reaping immense benefits from the use of the inoculant and other good agronomic practices introduced by N2Africa and have noted the easier accessibility of the inoculum with AISL’s involvement. Farmers now have easier access to soybean inoculant Natalia Matiasi, a soybean lead farmer from Mpingu Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Lilongwe, is helping fellow farmers with best practices and new technologies of legume farming. In her field, she applies all the agronomical practices she has learned from N2Africa to increase her legume production; she applies inoculant to her seed before planting, planted in double rows to increase yields. She is a clear evidence of how new technologies can improve farmers’ livelihoods. Natalia says there are clear differences in the crop when the inoculant is applied. The plants have greener leaves, longer stems, and more pods than when the inoculant is not applied. Even the roots also had a lot of nodules and were therefore able to introduce more nitrogen into the soil. She also compared her maize harvest from the following year from the same field and observed that yields had increased even with reduced application of inorganic fertilizer. Through Partnership with Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation, a USAID-funded program, Demonstrations and field days were mounted in key soybean growing areas and farmers learnt a lot about use and storage and the resultant benefits from using NITROFIX. However, these demonstrations and field days need to continue and be held in many areas over the next few years to come to ensure that farmer and Agrodealer knowledge about use is enhanced.

  With AISL, access to the inoculant is now easier. “This year, it was easier for us to get the inoculant than other years. We bought it from our local agrodealer at a price of MK1000.00 (US$1.4) per sachet and applied 12 sachets to at least two hectares of land (translating into $8.4 worth of inoculant per hectare), which proves how economical planting soybean is compared to tobacco farming which I did previously and required about $220 worth of fertilizer to establish the crop. I am now able to send my children to school from my earnings in soybean farming.” And like every mother, Natalia hopes that soybean farming can help improve her life and that of her children. She hopes she will be able to send her children to high school and college with savings from soybean farming. She plans to renovate her house and buy more land. As a lead farmer, she says over 400 farmers visited her field in the last planting season to learn about her farming practices. Some of them have already started planting inoculated soybean under her supervision. N2Africa is supporting her through training, mounting demonstration plots, and facilitating field days on soybean and legume farming and marketing strategies.


About AISL

Agro-Input Suppliers Limited (AISL) was registered in the year 2003 as a company limited by private share capital. The company’s core business is production and trading of agricultural Inputs and commodities. AISL aims at providing productivity enhancing technologies that will make a difference in farmer’s yields and therefore income.

Our vision is to become a recognized leading local productivity enhancing technology provider. Our Mission is to provide certified seeds, legume inoculants and develop innovative, high value commodity aggregation and marketing systems to farmers.

AISL’s customers are divided into four main segments: (1) Farmers and cooperatives, (2) Corporate agro-dealers, (3) Independent agro-dealers, and (4) Institutions



In 2015 AISL signed an MoU with Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS) to commercialize the production and marketing of soybean inoculant in Malawi. AISL took this initiative following its active participation in the promotion of use of inoculants and phosphate fertilizer in the soy bean production under the N2Africa project, a research and development project that seeks to scale the production of legume crops. During the promotion AISL used imported inoculants from Kenya which was not registered in Malawi because Malawi had no manufacturer.  AISL established that demand for the technology was high despite the problem of availability and registration.

In the agreement DARS was to support AISL with elite strains and staff training whilst AISL was to produce and distribute 20,000 sachets for a pilot local production and commercialization of inoculants in Malawi. This was successfully done and 20,000 sachets were produced and sold off in that year.

Scaling up

Therefore scaling followed with AISL partnering with different institutions who took different roles in support to the product scaling up. IITA N2Africa Project partnered with AISL in bringing technical support and staff capacity building; DFID funded MOST took the marketing component; German Aid through the MEIRA project took the product promotion through demos and field days. Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation, a USAID-funded program, took the strategy development approach to scaling production, sales and marketing of the product.  Through the FTF-P4I intervention AISL developed and implemented an outreach program that resulted in reaching out to over 175,000 farmers within a year. This was a great achievement as ordinarily it would have taken AISL 2 to 3 years to achieve the same using own resources. AISL was also able to develop comprehensive quality control processes and came up with a manual that has been approved by the regulatory authorities. The various stakeholder meetings both local and international organized by FTF-P4I also helped in developing linkages and partnerships amongst grantees. AISL are in talking with Rab Processors to utilize a network of over 45 retail stores that Rab has as NITROFIX distribution network and is currently exploring opportunities in Mozambique market through the FTF-P4I grantees there.

From initial production of 20,000 sachets in 2015, AISL has produced and distributed over 320,000 sachets in 2017/18.

Current production capacity is for 1 million sachets and thus room for growth to meet effective demand is there and also to afford product diversification.

The ability to increase production and sales was due to the following interventions:

Product diversification

AISL took the initiative following farmer demands to develop and launch a groundnut inoculant to compliment the soybean. Currently the market has two products: one for Soybean and the other for Groundnut. Bean inoculant is under trial and is set to be introduced on the market next growing season of 2018/19.

This has been critical to the scaling as different crops are affected differently by both drought and seasonal price fluctuations. As a result they tend to compensate each other in terms of total quantity demanded and hence sales.



AISL has just finished the construction of the new and permanent laboratory in Kanengo. This laboratory will enable it to cater for the scaling and product diversification to reach a million sachets goal based on the projected sales growth. Further AISL is investing in commensurate laboratory equipment’s to cope with the increased production and product diversification plan.   

The approach

As can be seen AISL managed to develop and work with different interests groups through strategic partnerships. Through these strategic partnerships an aggressive marketing and elaborate distribution plan was developed and implemented; Quality and Quality Control measures were put in place to ensure that NITROFIX meets recommended international and national standards.

Further, through the partnerships, capacity building of its staff was ensued right from day 1 and throughout the years to date. This shall be an on-going process as knowledge and getting to improve the way of doing things efficiently and effectively never ends.

AISL has committed itself in making sufficient investments in both infrastructure and equipment’s to support the production, distribution, and marketing of NITROFIX. This has resulted and will continue to ensure a NITROFIX product that meets all required specifications and is effective on the legume crops applied thereby giving a farmer the much needed value for money spent.


The Journey to grow NITROFIX sales and develop a range of bio-fert products in AISL has just begun. The next level is to ensure that local demand is met and satisfied and that regional markets are explored and supplied. AISL shall continue working with the existing and new partners to achieve this fit. Holding demonstrations and conducting of field days shall continue as this has proven to be the best driver for adoption and demand creation. Bean inoculants is on course for realize next season as current trial plots are highly promising.

Further AISL will from 2017/18 season intensify its output markets activity through structured marketing and warehousing receipt systems. This shall stimulate domestic demand for NITROFIX and certified legume seeds.

Success story: Less poverty through business


Sociedade de Beneficiamento de Sementes (SBS) is a seed processing company set up in the Zambezia region of Mozambique with the aim of producing low cost, high-quality seeds for the local market. With higher quality seed inputs, farmers will be able to increase their yield and quality of grain. The company was set up as a joint venture between Cooperativa dos Produtores da Alta Zambézia (COPAZA), a local farmer cooperative, and a local investor. The business model is that COPAZA members produce seed, the seed is then sorted, cleaned and packaged by SBS in a new seed processing facility established with support from Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation, and then COPAZA members act as sales representatives for SBS, selling seeds to their network of smallholder farmers.

One COPAA member, Mr. Manuel Alberto Quente stands apart. When he started, he had only 2 hectares of land. Over the years, through technical assistance and support in purchasing machines such as tractors, plows, and seeders, he now has 28 hectares of land. Mr Quente rented his tractor to a foreign company, generating $44,038 in revenue. He was also able to rent the tractor to Instituto Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (IITA), a large commercial farm in Zambezia, and to some outgrower farmers nearby. He grows a diversity of crops, including maize, soybean grain, and other beans. Additionally, he has dedicated 10 hectares of his land this season to growing high-quality soybean seed.


Last year, Mr. Quente was one of the top seed sellers of COPAZA. He sold 11,130 kg to 40 clients from which 38 were smallholder farmers he knows from the surrounding area – these smallholder farmers bought 4,625 kg of seed.


These sales have a significant impact on the quality of the farming of these 38 farmers. With an average of 2 hectares each, the yearly income for this group is well below the poverty line. The increase in yield due to the use of Mr. Quente’s improved seed (up to 2x times higher than the traditional technology) will provide his clients a substantial increase in profits. Given his confidence in his smallholder farmer clients, he sold the seed on credit. They took one bag of 50kg of seed and at the end of the season, they paid him with 2 bags of 50kg of grain. This allowed farmers without available cash to access high-quality seeds and provided Mr. Quente with the grain he needed for his trading business. This year, he received 9,250 kg of grain in payment.


Another reason why he is so successful is that he pairs the seed sales with access to additional services. In addition to selling seed, he rents out his plowing and threshing machines to the farmers.


Last year, eight of the farmers rented his plow, resulting in 12 hectares of land under improved practices. He also has a mechanical thresher that he uses to thresh his clients’ production at a discounted price. The thresher has an increased cost efficiency providing the smallholder farmers a reduction in threshing costs compared to traditional hand labor.


The seed sales and machine rentals represent valuable revenue streams for Mr. Quente, but also ensure high-quality grain production for the smallholder farmers, which reduces their agricultural risks. In the end Mr. Quente managed to improve the economic conditions of his neighbor smallholder farmers without jeopardizing his own financial sustainability.

It is a win-win scenario.


  1. Mr. Quente sees demand for both seed and services increasing. His neighbors have been increasing their land areas, some of them reaching areas as large as 5 hectares. While he plans to continue working with the same 38 farmers next year, he estimates that due to their growth in area the demand for seed will be between 14,000 and 15,000 kg – 5,000 to 6,000 kg coming from the neighbor smallholder farmers. He also recognizes that demand for mechanized plowing services will increase up to 20 hectares and plans to start providing services earlier in the year to help meet this demand.


  Through his increasing agricultural revenues, last year Mr. Quente was able to invest the money to purchase one additional sower, one tractor trailer, a small truck, and even a fish culture plant. He was also able to construct a new warehouse and invest in other on-farm improvments

Rana Labs Video Production Workshops
October - November 2017



Around the world, farmers are incorporating new biological control products into their Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy and are seeing encouraging results. While chemical products can be the right solution in certain circumstances, they can also be harmful to our health and to the soil. Furthermore, pests can develop resistance to chemicals which can be harmful to crop production and to the livelihood of smallholder farmers in particular.


In the Western Highlands of Guatemala, the AgriJoven project is providing highly technical workshops with youth in the agricultural sector to learn about IPM and new biological technologies that can benefit their crops. Mercy Corps has successfully organized over 40 groups of youth into Youth Savings and Loan Associations (YSLAs) where youth participants learn about new agricultural technologies and invest together with the goal of improving their own crop production. As an additional resource, youth learn about mobile filmmaking to document their learning process by working with Rana Labs, a media production company, to produce videos focused on explaining the technical content of the workshops to a wider audience.


In a recent workshop, youth learned about the benefits of biological control for foliage illnesses in potatoes and tomatoes as well as for soil disinfection. After a presentation by Mercy Corps technical staff and a discussion about application techniques and other topics, the youth then set out to make storyboards to produce videos on a variety of products. Youth then recorded their interviews to describe the benefits of the products, their application and expected results. Combined with their narration, youth recorded scenes of proper application of the products on soil fungi, bacteria, stem disease, parasites and other common pests. The final scenes described how the use of biological products allows us to have better roots to achieve more rigorous and productive crops and soil.


To date, Rana Labs has completed nine mobile filmmaking workshops with youth throughout the Western Highlands. Each video, told by youth for youth, is a helpful set of tools that will improve the crop production quality and therefore livelihoods of the Western Highlands of Guatemala and the region. Our goal is to inspire a new generation of storytellers by using mobile filmmaking as a transformational tool for extension.  


To see all nine videos of the workshops from October and November 2017, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDLkysdU1ReJOzeJxvUflnvCpA55N8ZIF


Visit us on Facebook to see even more photos and content produced as part of the training here: https://www.facebook.com/ranalabs and on the AgriJoven page here: https://web.facebook.com/AgriJoven-319688878408179/

Are you a small holder or commercial farmer desirous to process your produce into finished products for sale to homes or other industries so as to arrest post harvest wastes and losses? We can design and assist you with innovative solutions that will enable you maximize the value chain of your produce and also earn you tremendous income.

Send us an email mentioning the crops you have in good quantity and it will amaze you the value and money you can make through our innovative solutions. Email us through: gloryarenaexcellentmen@yahoo.com or emmanueludomisor@yahoo.com


Maltose and glucose plant ed.jpg 

I always enjoy my weekly email feed from Agfunder, an online ag investment platform that stays on top of emerging technologies. In today's blog they report on a series D fundraise by agtech firm Farmers Business Network. FBN was started as an online platform supplying data to US farmers on seed and farm productivity using data directly provided from farmers or through their equipment. Using this data FBN realized that seed sold under many different brands, and for a range of prices, performed similarly, which allowed their subscribers to make smarter seed choices. Well, as innovators they innovate to meet market demand that they discover, and now FBN is a growing online supplier of seed and other inputs, competing with brick and mortar retail and industry stores. They've expanded their product selection to over 1,200 different seeds, fertilizers and pest management products, and are using this new injection of money to move into crop marketing, signing up farmers with hundreds of thousands of acres of grain production for contracts in 2018. Transparent data on input costs and market prices, and elimination of middlemen, lower costs and increase profits for their customers.


This all sounds very familiar. But while FBN's market is 50 thousand large US farms, Partnering for Innovation is working with companies trying to crack the last mile market of 500 million smallholder farmers. We have funded Twiga in Kenya who is using an online platform to help streamline fruit and vegetable marketing from the farm level to retail outlets in Nairobi, and Baban Gona in Nigeria that is setting up hubs of smalholder farmers that they offer financing, sell inputs and buy product from. Or TECAP in Mozambique, which is expanding their last-mile input and equipment distribution by establishing retail outlets closer to the market, and also setting up networks of individual farm business advisors who go directly to smallholders to market and sell. Or Agro-Input Suppliers in Malawi which is selling inputs but also has an eye on offering customers offtaking services. Database platforms are making their way into emerging market agriculture, and with mobile phone coverage being what it is, this technology should become more commonly available. Increasing the transparency and availability of inputs and markets will put more money into the pockets of this much larger market, and contribute to food security in the communities and countries where these farmers work. Do you see your company incorporating online platforms into your business model in the coming year? What hurdles do you anticipate during this process?

Africa is home to fertile land for agriculture. Over 70 percent of Africa's population are engaged in farming.

Several crops are cultivated yearly but unfortunately, the value chain of these crops are not maximized due to the absence of modern technology to process these produce to various finished products.

Africa remain underdeveloped because of lack of investment in agriculture which is its sector of advantage.

Many African government pays only lip service when it comes to developing this sector. To overcome poverty, unemployment, malnutrition and other devastating challenges that the continent is facing, states, organizations, development partners and investors need to look at the issue of industrializing Africa through the processing of agricultural produce.


We are willing to deploy our wealth of ideas in partnering with individuals, organizations, donor agencies, investors, etc in developing technological solutions in the processing of agricultural produce into various finished products for use in homes and factories.Our package comes with capacity building, manpower training and technology transfer.

Interested persons and organizations can reach us through; gloryarenaexcellentmen@yahoo.com or emmanueludomisor@yahoo.com


  Maize maltose processing plant ed.png


Download the 2018 Executive Training Brochure here. The application is available here. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis; the final application deadline is March 31, 2018. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible, particularly if seeking a partial scholarship.

The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) is pleased to announce that applications are open for our Executive Training on Sustainable Investments in Agriculture, which will be held at Columbia University from June 19-29, 2018. This interdisciplinary, executive-level training course is designed primarily for public sector officials and civil society representatives from low- and middle-income countries, whose responsibilities relate to investments, agriculture, land, or rural development. A select number of representatives from the private sector and development agencies may also be admitted.

The course, which is taught by leading experts in this field, provides an overview of pressing issues related to agricultural investments, as well as an introduction to relevant practical skills. Topics include:


  • An introduction to agricultural investment, including inclusive business approaches;
  • Agricultural investments and the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • Land rights and tenure security;
  • Domestic legal frameworks and investment contracts;
  • International investment law;
  • Fiscal regimes and modeling;
  • Long-term planning and linkages to agricultural investments;
  • Managing environmental and water impacts, and addressing climate change;
  • Gender impacts;
  • Transparency and human rights; and
  • Addressing land grievances and legacy issues post-investment.

The goal of the course is to build the knowledge and skills necessary to support responsible agricultural investment, and to facilitate knowledge sharing among the different countries represented at the course. You can find more information, as well as feedback from past participants, in the program brochure or on CCSI's website.

If you are interested in participating in the training or know of qualified candidates, please visit CCSI's website. for the application materials and additional details about the program. The program fee for the eight-day training is USD $3,800; this covers lectures, accommodation, breakfast and lunch, and social events. (For participants who organize their own accommodation, the fee is $2,500). Participants will receive a Statement of Attendance from Columbia University.

How can I apply?

To apply, please complete and submit our online application form (here); applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis until March 31, 2018. To increase your chances of being selected, we encourage you to apply as early as possible. If you are seeking a partial scholarship, you are also strongly encouraged to apply early.

Hello! Here is a great article about a segmentation survey of smallholder farmers in Nigeria: http://www.cgap.org/publications/national-survey-and-segmentation-smallholder-households-nigeria?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3A…


The information is very helpful for understanding how smallholder farmers in Nigeria consider farming, their livelihoods, and their futures. Some key take-aways from the survey include:


Smallholders take pride in their agricultural activities, and most want to expand. The youngest generation of smallholders shows the most interest in agriculture. They account for over one-third of smallholder households, and many have been farming for more than six years.

Most smallholders say they can provide for their families’ monthly needs, though they live in poverty. They earn their income from agricultural activities and consider farming to be their primary job. Buying groceries and paying for transportation are their largest routine expenses.

Smallholder families view farming as a family business. Labor is largely sourced from family members. Family and friends are also the main source of information on agricultural activities and financial practices.


Go to the full article to get the background of the survey and the resulting findings, as well as three more key take-aways!



*     http://www.madein243.wordpress.com/


And this is our website, soon to be up and running


*     manitechcongo.com

It is a success story of highly underdeveloped communities in NW Bangladesh and their Story of change by the way of technology and transitional lands i.e. sandy river basin.



A Small Dream is Now A Big Dream - YouTube

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