The peasant farming families who have benefited from aid by SWISSAID know how to bring in a good harvest without chemical fertilisers and pesticides – thanks to better seeds, fertile soil and organic growing methods. However, the trust that exists between them, formed in the hours spent toiling together in the field, is every bit as important. Trust is also vital if farmers are to come together to form marketing groups.
The Tanzanian women who buy their produce appreciate organically produced vegetables. Organic farmer Hawa reports that, “The organic vegetables are always the first to sell, even here in the village. Our neighbours only manage to sell their chemically treated goods when there is no organic produce left”.
The organic farmers now want to sell their produce at the market in the town as they can achieve higher prices there. However, they have to contend with poor quality roads, and it is not worth getting a truck to transport a single farmer’s harvest. If the peasant farmers want to sell their produce at a profit and negotiate harder over the price, they have to work together in the villages.
Added value rests with the farmer
That is the message that Jane Albert Marwa from SWISSAID’s partner organisation TOAM passes on to the men and women who farm the land. She teaches them marketing skills and shows them how to get organised. She knows that “four fifths of all farmers sell their harvest without any added value”. However, considerable added value can be achieved by taking sample steps to create value, such as storage, sorting by size or quality, pre-packing, transport to the market or to the wholesaler.
This mindset is alien to many farmers. After all, not all farmers necessarily have good business acumen. Bookkeeping, production figures, price comparisons, business relations – that is not always their thing. However, there are always two or three people in any group who have a flair for trading and haggling. They form a marketing group with like-minded people from other villages. 44 marketing groups have been created over the past few months. They obtain the market prices and harvest forecasts and negotiate with traders and carriers. More courageous groups have even hired a truck or combined their sunflower harvest in order to market the oil extracted from that together. Individual groups also put aside savings in order to build a storage shed together.
A solid business relationship develops between the traders and the marketing groups over time. And good experiences help to nurture trust, which creates further scope for manoeuvre, and also allows the farmers to dream. Halifa Kimbawala, who runs one of the marketing groups, says that “perhaps the trader will also give us a favourable loan some time or even advance the funding to buy an oil press”.
- Project code: TA 02/15/03
- Costs: 45'791.- Swiss Francs
- Duration: 12 months
- Number of beneficiaries: 425 farmers (223 women) across 18 villages.