Alongside its large-scale farming operations, Amatheon uses its commercial farms as a nucleus to support and trade with thousands of small-scale farmers. Leveraging the platform, infrastructure and communication channels that Amatheon has established, the Outgrower Programme provides structured access to a network of smallholders – in turn allowing Amatheon to significantly increase its trading volumes while simultaneously achieving significant social impact. By incorporating smallholder farmers into the rural value chain, Amatheon helps build vibrant outgrower networks, fosters entrepreneurship, stimulates local productivity and diversifies sources of income.
The Outgrower Programme provides free trainings on conservation farming and business skills, establishes rural depots to sell inputs and buy grain, and links farmers with credit institutions. Since its inception in Zambia and Uganda, more than 6,000 farmers have been registered, 34 depots have been established, and 298 loans have been issued out to emerging farmers. The payback rate for loans was 100% and farmers were able to take their businesses to the next level. Importantly, more than US$1 million has been injected into the local economies through grain purchases from smallholders.
Recently, a livestock component was introduced to the Outgrower Programme whereby a veterinary firm provides vaccinations and animal health training, and Amatheon provides a reliable output market. This new addition to Amatheon’s buying basket helps farmers see the opportunities of investing in their livestock and reduces their dependency on cropping.