By Rosemary Mirondo

Dar es Salaam. A Morogoro-based small and medium enterprise (SME) operator, Mr Damian Agrove, secured a Sh17 million loan from a bank that has enabled him to expand his agricultural inputs business.

The business, which has been offering extension services to dairy farmers for 18 years, is now up and growing.

But the loan was only realised after he joined the AgResults competition whose approach is to connect businesses with banks.

Prior to that Mr Agrove said he could not find the right financial resources to make upfront investments in pasture, standard dairy meal and cold chain for quality artificial insemination (AI) services in the 18 years he had been offering extension services to dairy farmers.

Through the loan, Mr Agrove said he was able to purchase a 35kg tank for storing liquid Nitrogen, two 3kg tanks for AI service delivery, and a motorbike to ensure that AI services could be delivered on time. “This infrastructure enabled me to register 81 AI transactions in four months, leading to 37 reported cow pregnancies,” he said.

He said he used a portion of the finances to purchase hay and fodder so that farmers could access a ‘complete’ nutrition bundle per the prize competition criteria. To help more distant farmer’s access hay at competitive prices, Mr Agrove diversified the loan to develop a cost-effective dairy meal that met standard requirements with support from TanFeeds International, a feed manufacturing company.

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With these linkages in place, Mr Agrove could promote the use of standard dairy meals to improve milk production and nutrition for cows preparing them for AI services.

Selling more standard dairy meals also drove up how many AI services they offered. Mr Agrove sold 6,600kg of standard dairy meal in December 2020, and 24,500kg in January 2021, which then led to sales of 98 conventional semen straws in January and February.

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