Small holder farmers in Mzimba have all the reason to beam smiles following launch of a project in the district which is wielding potential to improve access to viable market for their agricultural produce.
A business affiliated non governmental organization (NGO), Tradeline Corporation Group Limited (TLC), Friday launched a 5 year Tools for Marketing Access Project in the district which will implement different strategies of enhancing small holder farmers easy access to agricultural commodity potential buyers.
The project’s paramount objective is to expand small holder farmers market access in its impact districts of Mzimba and Kasungu, through improvement of efficiency and competitiveness of marketing organizations, with purpose of increasing value and volume of the trade.
Speaking during launch of the project, at district executive committee (DEC) meeting, TLC Commercial Director, Lerato Lekhoaba said small holder farmers have always been facing challenges in finding reliable markets for their farm commodities because key marketing organizations (MOs) which are deemed as potential buyers, by far, lacked organizational, trade and financial capacity to effectively carry out their marketing activities.
Said Lekhoaba, “Therefore, it is our hope that when the project rolls out, it will enhance the capacity of all key marketing organizations to discharge their marketing functions in an effective and independent atmosphere for their benefit as well as of the benefit of small holder farmers.”
The Commercial Director said the project will work with marketing organizations, which organize themselves in cooperatives such as Apex Farmer Association, Small and Medium Agribusiness Enterprises and others , with great bias towards those trading in legumes, grain, cereals and horticultural products.
She added that the project has a component of establishing Investment Loan Fund which will link the marketing organizations to commercial banks where they will be eligible to credit facilities.
“These marketing organization will have easy access to credit facilities through the establishment of Investment Loan Fund which will bridge them to commercial banks for easy loan acquisition,” explained the Commercial Director.
According to Lekhoaba, when marketing organization procure agriculture commodities from small holder farmers, by complete adherence to laid down fair trade rules, they will sell them to bigger buyers for value addition and export.
M’mbelwa District Council Director of Planning and Development, (DPD), Precious Kantsitsi hailed TLC for deciding to implement the project in Mzimba, where small holder farmers accessibility to markets which can give them good returns from their farm produce, has always been a serious challenge.
The DPD lamented that small holder farmers who are desperate for money usually have no option but to sell their food commodities to unscrupulous traders who dangle money on their nose and end up ripping them off.
Observed Kantsitsi, “Unlike other districts, Mzimba district still boasts vast fertile arable land and its hard working people, who unfortunately, are not economically vibrant despite maximum food production every agriculture season, which is blamed on absence of viable market for competitive bargaining.”
The Planner added that the launch of then project was a big relief not only to small holder farmers but also to the mother council , which could not find answers to the problem.
Meanwhile, a bigger percentage of small holder farmers in Mzimba still have huge stocks of maize from last year’s growing season, which failed to find competitive buyers and it is sold at give away price to vendors for quick money to meet household basic requirements
A TLC Project, which runs from 2018 t0 2023, is funded by government of Flanders, to a staggering EURO 1.6 million.
It is targeting 30 marketing organizations, 300 farmers organization and a hooping 9,000 small holder farmers in Mzimba and Kasungu Districts.
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