The power of groups and services: Farmers‘ Hubs. Our Farmers’ Hubs program started in Bangladesh, and is now spreading elsewhere. The hubs offer multiple services to local farmers. Each is designed to run as a profitable business, and also boosts its clients’ income.
Smallholders in many countries lack access to advice, to input and output markets, and other services required for successful agriculture. Farmers’ Hubs are an answer to this problem. They act as aggregators for input buying and output sales, as well as providing agricultural know-how and machinery.
The Hubs are close to farming zones and transport infrastructure, but normally far from formal markets. The Hubs serve 500-1000 farmers each, linking them to 10-20 buyers. These include medium to large traders, processors and export companies. The Hubs are owned by rural entrepreneurs, agribusiness suppliers or farmers’ cooperatives. Fees for the services provide a regular flow of income. As well as selling produce, smallholders go to their Hub to access quality seedlings, farm machinery, post-harvest handling equipment, marketing information and agronomic advice. The overall effect is a rise in farm yields and income. Buyers benefit from product aggregation and reliable supply.
Our data show that the Hubs are a good service model for small and marginal farmers in remote regions. Organizing smallholders this way can greatly facilitate the production and collection of quality crops from disadvantaged areas. It also improves compliance with quality standards. This is not only true in Bangladesh. Building on the success there, our team in Senegal launched its own Farmers’ Hubs at the end of 2017. Since 2018, the Syngenta Foundation is also conducting a pilot phase for the Farmers' Hub model in Indonesia and Kenya. In March 2018, we have also added a digital platform, the e-Farmers' Hub to support the offer of the programme.
The Farmers' Hub model
Farmers' Hub operators provide various services for fees. They earn 60-80% of their revenue by trading farmers' products, 10-20% from farm inputs sales, and 0-5% for machinery rental and post-harvest handling. Their farmer training and advice is free.