Selling to an agency
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CTA. 2002. Selling to an agency. Rural Radio Resource Pack 02/2. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57324
Selling to a crop buying agency is another marketing strategy that small-scale farmers may chose to adopt. This interview features a Zambian co-operative that sells its export vegetables (Mange Tout, Fine Beans, Babycorn)to an agency, for which it has to fulfil very strict production standards. It also sells vegetables (tomatoes, carrots, onions), to local buyers, competing with cheap imports by inviting buyers to the farm.
Selling to an agency Cue: Small-scale farmers wanting to take advantage of lucrative export markets, are likely to struggle if they work alone. Even if they are lucky enough to have contacts overseas, and are able to grow produce of the highest standard, there is still the problem of quantity. How can they ever grow enough to interest a foreign buyer? One solution is for farmers to sell their produce to a crop buying agency. Good agencies will not only buy the produce, but also support the farmers in growing it to the right standards. One such example is Agriflora, a company based in Zambia. Daniel Sikazwe spoke to Simon Maonde, Vice Chairperson of a farming co-operative that sells to Agriflora, and asked him about how the agency was helping the co-operative with its production and marketing. He also found out about how the co-operative is managing to sell vegetables to local buyers, in competition with imports from neighbouring countries. TAPE IN ?We formed the co-operative. . . . . TAPE OUT . . . . . work hard to beat it.? DURATION 4?06? Closing announcement:. Simon Maonde on his marketing strategy of attracting buyers to the farm, rather than taking produce to the buyer. Transcript Maonde We formed the co-operative, we wanted to co-operate ourselves as a group, to make sure that our produce are put at one point where we can bargain for a better price. Then two years ago came in Agriflora scheme. So we then touched, and Agriflora has become the biggest, not only buyer but organiser of our co-operative. Sikazwe Agriflora is a big company which exports small-scale producers? produce to other countries, but I am very sure that they will not accept just any crop that comes there. There is a standard that they are going to follow. How do you make sure that you grow the kind of crops that will meet their standard?. Maonde Yes, you are right. Agriflora is very very strict in the way the crop is grown. The seed has to be provided by Agriflora themselves to prove that it is the right seed. Second, the time when you are growing we have an extension officer from MAFF and an agronomist from Agriflora itself, to see that the produce are the right type and don?t have any diseases or anything else. At the time of harvesting the Agriflora makes sure that they come to your farm, and they show me the type that we have to harvest, and which is not required called reject. Sikazwe So in this case if Agriflora is going to accept your produce, it has to be of very high standard or quality. Tell me about the secret that it involved in you producing products that are of very high quality. Maonde The secret first is the planting of it; you make sure that is planted according to the specification or spacing, as we call it. And secondly is to scout, as it grows you scout whether diseases or insects that attack it. Now if there are any you immediately go to Agriflora who send a person to scout and when they prove that one then they spray it. So if it is sprayed and well looked after the crop will be good. The last one is that there is a special standard the worldwide requires. If you have Mange Tout or Fine Beans which are bent, or it has a seed inside which is grown up, it is rejected. So you must make sure that you harvest the exact requirement. Sikazwe Let?s now talk about some of the products that you take on to the local market. You have tomatoes, you have peas and many other crops. There is liberalisation in place. We have seen a lot of products coming from Zimbabwe and South Africa and other countries. You might find yourself disadvantaged because these are coming from places or countries where there are subsidies on agriculture. Just how do you manage to get your crops on the market? Maonde That one you are right, it has been very difficult. But the only way we have done it, is because the South Africans and the Zimbabweans, they normally dump it at either supermarkets, or the bigger market which is Soweto. And the small businesswomen and men who need these things sometimes have no transport to get to the region. So in that way we decide to deliver our things in the townships. So in that way we beat them by going to the townships, or by making arrangements with the marketers themselves, coming to our farms to the co-operative. When they see the grade and not only that but the price; because if for example the box of tomato in Soweto market is at 20,000, if he came to our co-operative and we sold it at 15,000, so he is happier because, one, he has saved his 5000, plus even transport for himself or herself, plus the baggage he is carrying. As I said, the liberalisation of market, you really need to work hard to beat it. End of track.