Getting a fair price for a crop can be very difficult, particularly for farmers in remote areas. Strategies for better marketing include value addition, group bulking and storing of produce, and use of ICTs to access market information and make sales.
For African farmers to successfully feed the continent’s expanding population, transformation of subsistence smallholder farming into commercial agri-businesses is essential. But how to achieve this transformation? Delegates from the African Green Revolution Forum offer their views about the importance of collective marketing, in order to obtain better prices and other benefits such as financial credit. Staying up to date with new technologies, such as disease-resistant crop varieties, is also crucial. However, the benefits from such changes will affect not only farmers and consumers but those working right along the food value chain, whether in transport, processing or retail.
published: December 2012
All farmers want to earn a good price for their crop, but many fail to do so for various reasons. In Uganda, Farm Concern International has helped to link cassava farmers and traders, achieving benefits for both groups. By forming ‘commercial villages’, the farmers have bulked their crop, making it much easier and more efficient for traders to buy it. And by meeting traders’ need for a clean, high quality crop, farmers have been able to earn a higher price. Wambi Michael speaks to a trader and farmer, as well as Farm Concern’s country coordinator in Uganda, to find out more about how linking farmers and buyers has created a ‘win-win’ situation.
published: November 2012
Smallholder banana growers, like other smallscale farmers, can struggle to find a good market for their crop or earn a high price. They may also have difficulty obtaining disease-free, high yielding banana plants and other inputs, and this leads to low yields. In Kenya, the TechnoServe organisation has supported farmer groups to join up and establish their own banana marketing centres. By bulking their banana crop, they have attracted more consistent buyers. They have also introduced selling by kilo, rather than having to accept a price based on the buyer’s own judgement of value. And by forming a larger group, farmers have accessed better quality banana plants as well as training.
published: September 2012
Eva Luwerekera began her working life as a high school chemistry teacher. She then spent some time working as a sales representative for a seed company, and this gave her a longing to help farmers solve their biggest problem – finding a market for their crop. She set up Kiva Agro Supplies Ltd. which not only sells farm inputs but also trains farmers in crop management and identifies buyers for their produce. From the smallest beginnings, Eva’s company now has an annual turnover of more than US$350,000 and she still has high ambitions for the future. She believes agriculture is ‘the way to go’ for young people, and encourages them to be innovative and creative, achieving something big using local resources.
published: April 2012
In western Kenya, 3,000 smallscale farmers have adopted a new variety of high yielding, drought tolerant sorghum, called Sila sorghum. In areas where maize is becoming increasingly difficult to grow, because of insufficient rainfall, sorghum can be an excellent alternative. The Sila variety has been developed in Zimbabwe by Seed Co Limited, and reaches maturity in just three months. According to Sila promoter, Bakari Khamsin, farmers in Kenya could soon be growing the sorghum commercially, to supply Kenya Breweries, which is keen to use the crop for beer making, as a substitute for barley.
published: September 2011
Oysters, a luxury food in many western countries, sell very cheaply in The Gambia. The women who harvest oysters have traditionally been poorly equipped and given little respect. However, recently Gambia's oyster women have formed an association, and are organising festivals to promote different oyster-based foods. The association has trained its members to cultivate oysters rather than collect wild ones from the mangroves, in order to reduce the damage done to fish and shrimp nurseries. They are also practising improved hygiene at the trading centres. Fatou Mboob, the association coordinator, speaks to Ismaila Senghore about what they have achieved, and their future hopes.
published: July 2011
In 2007, Pamela Anyoti started a new company, to grow and export high value spice crops from Uganda. She began by training and buying from 15 smallscale farmers, all widows. She now buys from over 1,000 farmers, and in 2010 exported 24 tonnes of bird's eye chillies to Europe. She was also recognised for her skill as an entrepreneur at the 2010 EMRC Agribusiness Forum in Kampala. She explains more about her business model, and why it has proved so successful, to Pius Sawa.
published: March 2011
In Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, the organisation Farm Concern International (FCI) is supporting cassava farmers to find a new and potentially large market for their crop. The animal feed industry is looking to cassava as a low cost form of carbohydrate, as maize and wheat become increasingly unaffordable. But the industry needs semi-processed cassava that has been chipped and dried, so FCI is introducing chipping and drying equipment to around 120 groups of farmers, known as commercial villages. Winnie Onyimbo meets the project manager, one of the chipping machine makers and a farmer, to find out more.
published: February 2011
Established in 2007, the Ng'arua community knowledge centre in Laikipia district, central Kenya, is giving local people access to information by providing computing facilities. Farmers in the area have struggled to fetch good prices for their produce, and frequently have to accept low prices paid by traders. But they are now learning to use the Sokopepe trading system, set up by the Arid Land Information Network. This online system allows them to upload details of their produce to a website, and to receive offers from interested buyers.
published: December 2010
Maize farmers are often forced by poverty to sell their crop when prices are lowest. But in Rwanda, a group of 60 farmers are among the first to benefit from a system called warrantage which is enabling them to earn double the normal price paid by traders at harvest time. Under the system, farmers deposit their maize in a group storage shed and can receive 60 per cent of the value of their stored crop as a low-interest loan. The group, in partnership with a local bank, then sells the maize when prices are high, greatly increasing farmers' profits while also giving them access to credit at the point in the season when they most need it. Eric Kadenge reports on this initiative, which has now spread to several thousand farmers in Rwanda's Eastern Province.
published: November 2010
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