SAA’s SHEP training sets Malian farmers on a journey to prosperity
Sounkoura Traore, a member of the Mintiguila Cooperative, based in the Koulikoro region of Western Mali, says the training he received from SAA under the Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment and Promotion (SHEP) strategy has transformed his outlook of agriculture, and improved his income.
The SHEP model was adopted by SAA from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to influence smallholder farmers’ production by placing market demand at the center of all their operations.
Under the expert guidance of SAA, 40 vegetable producers, including 20 women, from Koulikoro’s Guessebougou and Mintiguila cooperatives were equipped with the knowledge on market survey techniques, crop selection strategies, and the art of crop calendar implementation.
With newfound insights into customer preferences and needs, Traore and his fellow farmers have forged invaluable relationships with their target buyers, securing a sustainable market for their produce.
“I have been engaged in farming for more than 20 years but had never considered what customers want. But with the knowledge I learned from SAA on the SHEP concept, I learned that I need to first find customers and then produce knowing that I have somewhere to sell,” Traore said.
For the training on market survey, the producers selected profitable vegetables (tomato, bell pepper, and onion), which they cultivated after the SAA equipped them with 5.8 kg of improved seeds, 6 tons of manure, 20 plastic watering cans, 6 rolls of fences, and technical support on good agronomic practices and post-harvest management. After harvest, the farmers generated USD 1,739 in product sales, including USD 1,631 from 0.33ha of tomatoes and USD 108 from 0.14ha of bell pepper. The income enabled the Mintiguila Cooperative to set up a revolving fund for its members to purchase agricultural inputs.
“During the market survey, we made good relationships with customers enabling us grow knowing that we have customers. I now earn enough money to cover the school fees for my children and also contribute to the upkeep of my family,” said Traore.
Retrieved from SAA E-Newsletter, issued in July 2023 with Focus on Mali