It?s not fair trade!
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CTA. 2002. It?s not fair trade!. Rural Radio Resource Pack 02/5. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57218
An economist in Zimbabwe?s Ministry of Agriculture summarises the reasons why developing country farmers struggle to sell their produce to foreign markets. He points out some of the progress that is being made in smallholder farming, and suggests the kind of opportunities available to farmers who want to boost their profits.
It?s not fair trade! Cue: Huge markets and wealthy consumers in the United States or Europe, all looking to buy the nutritious, healthy foods that developing countries can grow: farmers in Africa have often heard about the benefits that globalisation can bring. But for the majority, and particularly for smallholder farmers, the liberalisation of world trade has done little to improve their livelihoods. Global markets are simply unreachable for a whole range of reasons, from lack of information and communications facilities, to export tariffs and farming subsidies paid to developed world farmers. In our next report, Sylvia Jiyane finds out how in Zimbabwe, farmers are finding ways to target the world food markets. She talks to Langton Mkweresa, an economist in Zimbabwe?s Ministry of Agriculture, who begins by explaining some of the reasons why the open, global market is far from being a fair place for developing world farmers to sell their produce. IN: ?As far as our farmers ? OUT: ?to help the smallholder farmer.? DUR?N 3?29? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Langton Mkweresa suggesting how smallholder farmers might be able to exploit world markets. Transcript Mkweresa As far as our farmers are concerned, they cannot fully exploit the benefits of the world markets in that, the information that we have got is fairly limited, and even the channels of information sharing and whatever, they are not as much as those enjoyed by developed countries? farmers. Like the Internet, and whatever; we have got very limited telephone facilities for example, so we cannot fully exploit the markets in developed countries. We also have the issue of subsidies, which is quite a contentious issue. We are looking at quite some significant subsidies which farmers in developed countries enjoy. So those subsidies are resulting in over-production by developed country agriculture, and that has got an effect on world prices, that is also now depressing world prices and reducing the incentives for developing country farmers to produce. The other aspects that is also impacting negatively on these smallholder farmers in developing countries, is the issue of tariffs. Over 100% for our sugar exports to the US; again over 100% for grain exports into Europe. That has got an effect of impeding trade, yet we know that most benefits to smallholder agriculture, to agriculture in general really, are got through trade more than anything else. Jiyane Could there be any positive effects? Mkweresa One thing is there are quite some out-grower schemes, which are quite catching up. By growing some crops for the European market, say, as out-growers, and then selling your produce through some established pack-houses; we are seeing quite a lot of success in that regard. We are also seeing quite some strong efforts by our government and also by some international development partners, the NGOs, to try to also increase the outreach programmes to the smallholder farmers. We are looking at things like provision of inputs and much more extension services and things like that. That is also helping the smallholder farmers. A lot of diversification is going on where new crops are coming in. So there are certainly some things going on but as I said I think the biggest issue is the issue of liberalising the trade regimes world-wide, through the reforms going on at the World Trade Organisation. I think that is where we feel most impact would be felt by smallholder farmers. Jiyane In view of all that, what then is the future of small-scale farming? Mkweresa The future is certainly bright, but it is a question of the smallholder farmers working closely with the governments and all the other international development partners, looking at what are the opportunities that are there, largely by way of specialising in those products where we have got some comparative advantage. Particularly we are looking at the weather; when Europe is in winter, when they can?t grow a lot of the crops then that is some window of opportunity which we can exploit. So it is a question of some niche markets and also exploiting some windows of opportunity. And also through these various schemes, like I said, the out-grower schemes, specialisation in some high value crops, I think that is where the potential is. We have to specialise in some high value crops. So these are some of the things that I can think of to help the smallholder farmer. End of track.