UWEZO - Vipimo Vidogo, Mapato Makubwa! (Small Packs – Big Results)

Agriculture is at the heart of rural economic development in Africa and Syngenta is working closely with rural communities to provide the technology and knowledge farmers need to increase yields and use their land efficiently and sustainably. This is essential to achieve the step-change in productivity required to meet the increasing demand for food and to improve the livelihoods of millions of subsistence farmers. 

Uwezo is a Kiswahili word meaning “ability” or “capability” which underlines the theme behind the small packs concept and business idea.
Syngenta launched the Uwezo Project in June 2008 to provide smallholder farmers with world-class crop protection products in uniquely designed and affordable packaging including supply of high quality hybrid seeds. A comprehensive educational program focusing on the use of modern agricultural practices is a key component of Uwezo which makes this program stand out in the market place as existing offers just sell seeds or crop protection which may or may not be related to one another without much training and follow-ups. Uwezo’s aim is to enable subsistence farmers to become cash crop farmers and cash crop farmers to become more profitable. 

Work on the project commenced in 2005 with market research to determine the needs of the smallholder farmers and the disposable income they could spend on crop protection products. Media campaigns were commenced in April 2008 and involved advertisements on vernacular 7 radio stations and TV advertisements in both Swahili and vernacular languages. A comprehensive education program focusing on crop pest and disease knowledge was embarked on at the beginning of 2008 covering farmer demonstrations and stockist training (stockists are the last people to handle the products before they are purchased by farmers and as such are important advisers).

Farmers are also targeted during market days in their local shopping centers through a mobile promotional “Uwezo Bus” that further delivers the messages via screening videos with relevant information to farmers. The bus is manned by qualified agronomists that solve farmers’ problems and answer questions on the spot.

A separate and dedicated distribution channel has been set up and it involves 22 distributors (called the Mazao Club:  Mazao is Kiswahili word meaning “Yield” or “Harvest”) who in turn will serve over 2500 stockists around Kenya. These Mazao Club members are important partners for the success of Uwezo and have targets that they have to meet in order to remain members of the Mazao Club. Membership of the club is based on certain criteria such as operating according to the Mazao Business Plan, effectively distribute products to at least 100 stockists/retailers outlets in the member’s geographical area and to service them regularly and uphold high ethical standards and not trade in fake, adulterated or smuggled products (whether they are Syngenta products or not). In return, Syngenta provides various advantages and benefits including a Mazao Partnership Development Plan (PDP) for each member, creates demand through farmer training, agricultural shows, demos, etc., provides agronomic training and organizes a half-year meeting and Annual Award Ceremony. The PDP aims at ensuring the sustainability of the Mazao member through education schemes & development of its heirs. It also rewards behaviours that Syngenta would like to see in a Utopian Distributor, as well as financial performance. The World Bank research has showed that increasing yield reduces poverty as farmers use the income generated from the extra crop to buy better clothes, books and send children to school. Uwezo provides smallholder farmers with the ability and capability to make significant changes to their lifestyle by generating more income from their farming enterprise.
How the innovation has benefited disadvantaged people, communities and created new opportunities for small business, entrepreneurs and young people

The approximately 4 million smallholder Kenyan farmers who grow crops as their means of livelihood face many challenges in their agricultural endeavours, and amongst the most pressing are the low yields and crop quality of their produce. As a result, most of them are stuck in a cycle of poverty that is difficult to break as they do not have sustainable sources of income. Their inability to use the latest hybrid seeds, apply the right amounts of fertilizers and utilise the latest crop protection products compounds their problems. Uwezo approach critically addresses this inability and has already touched over 1m farmers in Kenya since 2008. Here are two real examples of how Syngenta assisted smallholder farmers improve their economic well-being:

  • Ruhemi Mastyle, growing snow peas for export to the EU,  saw his profits rise from between US$450-600 on his crop US$2,500 after using Syngenta Uwezo products. This was largely due to quality improvements as his pack house rejection rate fell from 50% to less than 5%.
  • Sarah, from Ngenia, saw her potato crop grow by 50%, from two to three bags, and her profits went from US$31 to US$186. This has enabled her to open a bank account and now intends on buying another plot of land.

Syngenta is committed to enhancing African agriculture. Our innovative seeds, seed care and crop protection products and the range of training associated with the use of these products offer benefits for farmers ranging from soil preparation to harvest and beyond.
The Uwezo Project is one of many initiatives championed by Syngenta across Africa. After success in Kenya, this concept is currently being expanded to other four key African countries in 2011. These initiatives will assist in developing rural agriculture and enable smallholder farmers to increase their crop yields and quality and subsequently their income. Syngenta will also benefit from Uwezo as its market share in the smallholder segment will grow over time thus creating a symbiotic growth between a large number of smallholder farmers and a global agribusiness player.
Uwezo project will also have a positive impact on the environment through the training and encouragement of farmers to optimise input usage. Water harvesting is one of the environmentally friendly techniques that will be demonstrated alongside the safe use and storage of crop protection products. This will ensure that there are no residues in food and no adverse effect on non-target pests.
Increasing the yield and quality of produce will naturally drive the need for linkages with the food chain and food retailers’ industry associations. Producer organizations will mirror activity in the "high quality export" sector and become more active in the "domestic production" sector to forge food chain links (connecting points of production with points of consumption). This will ultimately benefit the smallholder growers.
Through Uwezo, Syngenta is going to work with more SMEs, most of whom will be contracted to provide specific services. For example, mobile cinema units will be utilised as part of the Uwezo marketing campaign. Other SME service providers that are utilised or will be are:-

  • Public Relations company
  • Local Advertising Agent
  • Printers (x3)
  • Promotion Agents (e.g. Local Road Show company)
  • SprayerEquipment Distributors e.g. ( Murphy)
  • Local Farm Implement Companies
  • Fertilizer distributors
  • Crop Nutrition specialists/soil analysis laboratories

The Uwezo Project is one example of commitment of Syngenta to bring plant potential to life to address key issues around food security, economic and social development of farmers, climate change and, ultimately, contribute in nation building.