Last year was the first season we rolled out a irrigation services on a commercial scale. In this first season, there was far more rain than typical. Most of the farmers we registered lost their plots due to flooding early in the season, and others did not plant for the dry season due to the ongoing rain. Despite this, in the short dry season of 2019-2020 we were able to prove farmers were willing and able to pay for our service, and earn over 200 paying customers. After this, we have been waiting for this year’s dry season to see how we can grow the customer base in a normal dry season.
The 2020-2021 dry season is now underway, which really got started after Nov. 20th. We can say for sure now that there there is wide scale demand for our service. In the first two weeks of the season, we have done almost as many hours of service as the whole of last season. Every day we have a waiting list for services to be done, as we don’t have enough equipment to serve all the demand. We’ve had to double the number of field staff that provide irrigation to our farmers. And we have not done any marketing, this is all word of mouth.
Having worked in smallholder agricultural and irrigation projects for over 10 years, I have never seen anything like this. The extent that farmers are putting us on pressure and eager to pay for our service is frankly unexpected. We are thrilled, though our branch managers are exhausted.
Based on this initial performance, we are confident that the demand per branch is feasible at the scale we need to be profitable and scalable. We still have to see how the rest of the season goes. We hope to show the same scalability of the unit economics per customer when all is said and done.