Noven Owiti @PeopledDailyKe
Provision of extension services to farmers in conjunction with other partners and cooperation with key players in the griculture sector have made Tiva Agrovet to stand out nationally.
Located at Rabuor trading centre, Kisumu county, the agro-dealer landed the award after making a third time entry in the competition following two failed attempts previousily.
The agrovet beat other contenders to emerge top in the best Small-scale Agro-input Dealers’ (less than Sh5 million in investments) category. The competition was organised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Elgon Kenya Ltd (an agrochemicals supplier) and other international partners.
Nyando sub-county agricultural officer Caleb Ogola points out proper record keeping, well-developed business plans and professionalism as the agro-dealer’s strengths that saw it scoop the award.
“As you have seen, the shop displays products well, with good storage and adherence to laid out standards,” he says during a visit to the agrovet.
The enterprise’s proprietor, Beatrice Okello says their secrets to success include better management skills, efficient customers service delivery, customer trust and a wide product knowledge.
“I won the award because of the extra efforts I have invested in the last two years plus expertise I put in doing my work differently,” says a jovial Okello.
The agrovet supplies animal feeds, seeds, fertilisers, agrochemicals and animal health products, among other farm inputs frequently used by farmers. It has gained prominence recently by partnering with other agricultural organisations in providing extension services to farmers.
The experts train farmers on sophisticated farming techniques and on popular products free of charge. Okello says from such capacity-building initiatives, the farmers escape being exploited by unscrupulous businessmen.
“We want to see them doing joint purchasing, production and marketing as that will enhance their bargaining power and reduce chances of exploitation.
Most of the farmers here are now more enlightened,” she says. Okello got the idea to start the enterprise in 2010 after learning there was an overwhelming demand for agrochemical products locally.
She opened the shop with Sh100, 000 as seed capital. Part of the money went into purchasing assorted stocks while the balance was spent on registering the business and paying rent and deposit for the premises.
“I realised that farmers here faced challenges sourcing various farm inputs, which was an opportunity for me to start off. The farmers also needed experts to advise them on sophisticated farming techniques,” explains Okello.
Over time, the business attracted a broad customer base and so it picked up gradually, despite facing a few challenges initially. With the increased workload she had to employ a manager to enable her run the business effectively.
A few years later, she opened a branch at Akalla area in Gem constituency, which deals in the same products. The new shop saw her income increase. Today, the enterprise has expanded to supply more varieties of agro-chem products, horticultural inputs, fertilisers and animal products.
Tiva now makes direct orders for supplies at subsidised rates from established agro-companies such as Western Kenya seed, Osho chemical, Amiran Kenya, Green Life, Elgon Kenya and Sygenta.
The business is now raking in Sh400, 000 in monthly sales from the two outlets, but subject to seasonal variations. Molline Atieno, who manages the shops, says they keep regular financial and performance reviews. This is done through timely preparation of business plans and financial reports.
“We conduct half-year reviews on the financial status of the business and the flow of products. We also routinely evaluate ourselves based on the business’s annual performance to losses or profits,” says Atieno.
The products are strategically displayed where customers can easily see them besides taking time to explain to them on the usage of different items, including the new products.
“Our work is made easier by having a list of all farmers who train and work with us. All data relating to the enterprise is stored through electronic systems,” Atieno says.
Okello says winning the award has given her agrovet an added prominence and motivation to work harder. “There is an increased customer base and confidence among the suppliers,” she says.
The former extension officer at Vi-agroforestry now intends to expand her business to accommodate more varied products and tap additional income. And next time around, she will be targeting the large-scale category (more than Sh10 million investments).
Okello says due to the raging effects of climate change, there is need for farmers to resort to modern farming methods if they want to be sure of plentiful harvests. She advises farmers to use certified seeds, use fertilisers and pesticides properly and grow improved varieties.
“Farmers should embrace the use of sustainable land management practices that help in mitigating and adaptation to the effects of climate change,” she says.
Ogola says the entrepreneur has embraced modern technology in record keeping and marketing. This is besides employing qualified veterinary personnel to manage the shops effectively and advise farmers appropriately on the application of various agro-products.
“Tiva Agrovet clearly observes the safety and health standards outlined in the agricultural sector while handling various products. The dealer takes keenly the recommendations we give them which made them do stand out exceptionally in the agribusiness competition,” says Ogola.