Helping Zimbabwe's Fragmented Farmers
Zimbabwe’s poor tend to be its smallholder farmers. They remain poor because they have no access to markets which means no money to invest in machines or techniques that can optimise their farming (e.g. irrigation). With little infrastructure to connect their villages to the markets where agri-products are bought and sold, they are left cut off from a stable and profitable supply chain, with the city middle-man laughing all the way to the bank on the back of the poor farmer’s sweat. This type of market fragmentation means that many African smallholder farmers are caught in a cycle of poverty.
This market fragmentation lead to farmers being exploited. In a sustained and ruthless pattern that has come to be accepted as the norm, various intermediaries, from private traders to public marketing boards, have taken advantage of the disorganised markets. Typically, such intermediaries can enjoy being the only purchaser a farmer has contact with. This lack of competition means they can ensure that a farmer has no choice but to take whatever price is offered. This is sometimes as low as 10 per cent of the on-going market price. Farmz (Farmers Market Zimbabwe) aim to disrupt this by offering a more stable, more ethical trading platformwhereby farmers cannot only benefit from fairer transactions but also take full control of their destiny while learning how to make wiser marketing and investment decisions at the same time.
Today we launch the farmers’ trading platform on a trial basis, Farmz, which was developed by farmers for the benefit of farmers. This will be followed up by officially unveiling this platform at a venue and date to be chosen by farmers themselves. We call upon all farmers to participate in this trial run.