SEEDS Project

Location: Nampula, Zambézia and Manica provinces
Duration: 2015-2019
Donor: USAID Feed the Future/Partnering for Innovation
Focus areas: Certified seed distribution and marketing

Mozambique’s sheer size and logistics costs, combined with smallholder limited spending power, means that that the smallholder inputs market has not traditionally been an attractive one for inputs firms. As such, inputs are mostly only sold in major town and cities – a round trip of around 160 km for most farmers. Yet given that practically all rural smallholders in Mozambique produce something on a small farm or “machamba”, seeds and other agricultural inputs are not a specialty good that warrants them travelling to a specialist store – actually, they are a household necessity, and we believe they should be sold as such.

NCBA CLUSA’s SEEDS project bought down the risk for inputs firms to set up new business and distribution models which put smallholders at their core. Our SEEDS project issued grants to two local seed companies – Oruwera Seed Company and Phoenix Seeds – to set up last mile agrodealer networks which make it cost effective to market seeds in rural communities at an affordable price. Too often, farmers are intimidated by the perception that certified seeds are a complicated or unaffordable new technology. But SEEDS helped to break down this notion by marketing seed like any other basic product. So, unlike many similar inputs retailer models who target dedicated agrodealers, we work with the small, existing rural shops or “barracas” – who are so ubiquitous in the rural Mozambican landscape – encouraging and supporting them to add certified seeds as an additional stock item to their every-day goods. By doing so, SEEDS helped to demystify certified seeds and make them accessible for all.

Selected results:

  • Inputs retailer network established: Last mile “hub and spoke” distribution model established -14 larger inputs “hubs” were connected to 280 last mile inputs retailers or “spokes”
  • Certified seed sales: This network sold 204 tons of certified seed (worth $453,000) to 20,200 smallholders, planting 10,000 hectares
  • Smallholder friendly products and sales channels: firms developed smaller pack sizes and trial packs, and other sales channels (seed fairs held at local market days)
  • Sustainable last mile distribution network: The smallholder segment now makes up around a quarter of Phoenix’s total market and the firm’s agrodealer network is central to its distribution strategy. The agrodealer networks established under SEEDS remain at the center of all NCBA CLUSA’s current inputs related initiatives