They realised that to achieve this goal, they needed to improve the quality of their seedlings so they could attract as many smallholders as possible and inevitably enhance their income.
"Initially, we used a conventional flowerbed, but we realised the roots of some plants were weak, which often interfered with their development. While transplanting to the ground, we realised that we often damaged the roots and the crop wilted for two to three weeks. Many times, the crops did not revive,” commented Mr. Selemane Saíde and Mr. Alaquina Omar during an interview.
Both partners quickly realized that they needed to do things differently if they wanted to minimise the losses they had made in the past. They heard about the Good Agricultural Practice training being offered by the Horti-Sempre project and signed up immediately. The training sessions empowered them with relevant and modern techniques which they could apply to improve their farming activities and ultimately enhance their production outputs.
"We noticed that when we produced seedlings using the traditional method, we recorded losses of more than 30% while when we used the trays in our production, our losses drastically dropped to only 2% since the seedlings grew evenly. Today, we produce 70,000 seedlings per month.”
With great joy, Mr. Selemane and Mr. Alaquina reminisced the benefits this investment had brought to their business after just four months of implementation. Out of 40,500 seedlings already produced, they have tested the different combinations of materials to obtain good quality substrates and to start the promotion and dissemination process of seedlings to community producers.
"Using trays for the seedling production gives us an easier time when we transplant into the ground, and the growth is uniform. We can produce more quantities quicker, thus giving us a competitive advantage.”
Since they began the production of commercial seedlings using trays, Mr. Selemane and Mr. Alaquina have already received revenue of CHF 2,322 despite them not using the greenhouse to its full capacity. They are currently in a phase of learning so they can increase their demand. It is expected that over time, many entrepreneur skills will be improved and the need for quality seedlings will also increase progressively. The future of the business looks very promising.
The Horti-Sempre project is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).