Why simple works

May 27, 2024
Report from global tour

Why simple works

Africa was the focus of our last blog, when FertiGlobal’s Business Development Manager Claus Brakemeier explained how our partners are crucial to the success of our products. In this second part of our Africa focus, we’re taking a closer look at the products finding favour with Africa’s farmers.

How do you launch products in a country where the farmers, without exception, are unaware of the FertiGlobal brand and its speciality crop input portfolio?

In fact, it’s not just the FertiGlobal portfolio of which they have little awareness. Farmers in our three ‘market entry’ countries – Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa – have little awareness of any speciality products, because they’re not using them. Compared with Europe, or Latin America, there’s very little market penetration of this crop input category in southern Africa.

At first glance, that might appear to make any kind of market entry an uphill struggle. But that’s exactly why we’ve been very careful to select the right products to make the right introduction.

No matter where they are in the world, farmers are understandably cautious about the claims attached to novel products and new categories. As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression; in farming, that translates to ‘you only get one chance to make the right decision’.

A product’s failure ‘to do what it says on the tin’ not only destroys trust in a category, but also directly affects a grower’s bottom line. At best it’s an unrealised return on investment; at worse, a potentially serious loss of yield.

That’s why FertiGlobal evidences all its product claims with full trial data. Farmers need this vital reassurance to give them full confidence in the provenance and performance of every product they choose to use on their crops.

Many farmers in this region already recognise that their crops are falling short of their yield potential, and that crops have yet to reach European standards of productivity. In many ways they’re hampered, though, because distributors do not carry the specialist products, such as biostimulants, that European farmers are so enthusiastically adopting.

Growers will often admit themselves that there’s a need for better knowledge mobilisation, too. Their uncertainty about which products to use, and whether they’ll offer a good return on investment, further dissuades them from stepping outside their product comfort zone.

Against this background, we decided to keep things simple. That’s why we’re blazing a trail into this region with just four key products: Mantus, Dinamico, Colore and OK. Well-known, well-proven products, they have been the subject of repeated, extended, widespread trials in many different crops and countries. We know exactly what they can do.

Keeping it simple means using these four products to demonstrate the concept and potential of FertiGlobal’s Total Crop Management approach, with a well-structured knowledge transfer programme run in partnership with Bancella. These four products also provide farmers with a comprehensive use case on the region’s key crops: tobacco, still of major economic importance in this region, vegetables, wheat, soybeans, blueberries, citrus, peas and potatoes.

In addition to Bancella’s role in helping FertiGlobal to secure registrations across the region, I’ve also been impressed by the enthusiasm shown by local agronomists and pest control advisers (PCAs). Brian Hayes, a well-respected and renowned PCA working with tobacco growers in Zimbabwe, has reported very positive results from his early trials with Mantus, one of our EnNuVi-enabled products. Here, a single application of Mantus at 1l/ha led to great result in fighting off Cercospora (frogeye).

Elsewhere in Zimbabwe, farmer Keith Butler is trialling OK on non-irrigated soybeans. While the crop has been under water stress, Keith reported that the area treated with OK – from our Foliarel technology range – has seen a marked improvement in plant development. We’re awaiting the harvest analysis to assess whether the visual cues extend to yield improvement too.

I can’t wait to share some further results from this region as we make progress in communicating the benefits of FertiGlobal’s Total Crop Management programmes to local farmers and their advisers. After all, this is an area with huge agricultural potential: its farmers just need the right tools and sufficient knowledge to help them realise it, sustainably and efficiently.

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