Lachlan Kenya Ltd. - Nairobi, Kenya
The owners of Lachlan Kenya Ltd. know that an educated grower is more likely to understand the importance and value of crop inputs and therefore more likely to invest in those products. That’s why, during the past two years, the company has spent time to train as many as 80,000 potato growers, teaching them how the right seeds and proper fertilization can improve yields.
“This was because the small, subsistent growers we were targeting did not understand the basics of potato growing, and we quickly saw that the benefits of crop protection or fertilization would not be seen until they had the basics of getting a reasonable yield,” says Richard Stone-Wigg, General Manager.
The company calls it the Viazi Power potato program. And the results have been clear, with yields increasing from 5 metric tons/hectare to 21 mt/ha.
Education comes in many forms, including demonstrations and field days. Lachlan provides small pack samples to encourage testing by the grower. The company participates in radio programs and is now looking at text messaging, Facebook, and Twitter as tools to help educate and grow the business. Grower WhatsApp groups are set up, and growers are encouraged to share experiences. Lachlan also offers a call center for direct marketing and communication to growers. The platforms are also used to let growers know about the weather, when they should plan to plant, fertilize, and spray, and they can link them to the market for selling their produce.
These programs are a reflection of the company’s mission: “At Lachlan we understand that farmers need effective, robust solutions to optimize crop yield and income. So, we will encourage farmers to adapt to new nutritional and environmentally friendly crop protection concepts for sustainable farming.”
Developing trust with clients is key. “We believe in looking after the soils, the environment, the produce, and the people and work toward ensuring these aims are met,” Stone-Wigg says. “We market and sell the right fertilizers, matching them to the soil types and pH after soil analysis; we recommend the right pesticides (we never sell just to get an order — we advise correctly) and push for controlled and IPM applications.
“This is our key role — ensuring farmers know how to use the products correctly, at the right time.”