Partnerships Leading to Other Partnerships: Bundling Inputs for Improved Outcomes
Convincing smallholder farmers to break with tradition is not easy after generations of steady production and familiarity. But as climate factors are increasingly affecting yields and quality, many farmers are open to investing in new inputs or services.
Fernando Mendez, manager of Servicios de Post-Cosecha in Guatemala, saw this new willingness as an opportunity to sell improved potato seed varieties. Despite a large pool of potential customers, Fernando faced two main challenges: convincing farmers of the seeds’ efficacy and getting the product to the remote Western Highlands.
In stepped Popoyán, a Guatemalan biological control company, which was already servicing the highlands through a number of established demonstration plots. Together the two companies solicited and received financial support from Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation to bundle and commercialize their products. Post-Cosecha donated potato seeds for Popoyan’s demonstration plots and provided on-site technical training.
Selling farmers the improved potato seeds and the biological pesticides as a bundle was a smart strategy for both Post-Cosecha and Popoyán. Post-Cosecha was able to introduce its product to new customers, and Popoyán was able to provide a more full-service suite of products. As a result, Popoyán’s sales soared among potato farmers, and Post-Cosecha reached 2,218 new customers in two years.
“These kind of collaborations help achieve a shared success. Farmers also collaborated, doubling their parcel size to compare traditional seeds with the improved variety,” said Fernando. When farmers saw the dramatic yield differences in the side-by-side comparison, they knew buying the products was the right choice.
Sustainability happens organically when the private sector has a financial incentive to sell products or services to customers in smallholder markets. Having partners in the same industry increases the shared-value potential in terms of financial bottom line for the companies and improved quality and productivity for the smallholders.
“We are committed to show our example of success with other actors in the private sector,” said Ignacio Viteri, technology catalyst manager for Popoyán.
Farmers in the Western Highlands are also reaping the benefits of this partnership. Smallholder Jeremías Perez participated in demonstration plot trainings and subsequently purchased the improved seed and the biological pesticide, which increased his yields.
Other farmers around him saw his success, creating a ripple effect that resulted in new sales for Post-Cosecha and Popoyán, higher potato yields throughout the Western Highlands and economic growth for thousands of smallholder farmers in the region.
“It is a pleasure for my partners and I to have a lucrative activity that has the added benefit of helping farmers,” Fernando said when asked how he felt about his contribution to the development of Guatemala. “We are committed to our mission and proud of the results of this collaboration.”