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

 

Background

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.

 

Infrastructure

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.

Conclusion

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.