My name is Jerry Kudakwashe, 33 years old now, and a holder of Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management and Agriculture (Horticulture), from a local reputable University. I have more than 10 years experience in implementing Strategic sustainable development working with marginalized communities using Agro-ecology as the main intervention basis.
During my tenure as a programmes officer, we have achieved a lot in terms of food and nutrition security, but not really significant strides in terms of financial security. This has been mainly due to the various pull and push factors in the agri-market sectors as well as production sectors. My project is intending to decrease post-harvest losses, improve packaging, improved shelf life and increase market visibility thereby creating viable market linkages for the farmers’ produce adherence to standards and requirements of the markets, as well as creating coordinated production amongst the 120 organic farmers in Hwedza.
The post-harvest loss management will be done through the skills impartation of zero energy cooling chambers technique and other complimentary practices for both household and central packhouse usages. The afore mentioned practice will improve shelf life by between 150 – 250% for horticultural crops. Improving packaging will be done through the purchase and availability of equipment for weighing, wrapping, barcoding, using environmental friendly package materials, and attractive labelling, that confirms the origin of the products and its fair treatment to the grower.
Market visibility will also the main theme of the central Packshed, where the targeted markets, will be individual government stuff in Hwedza, public institutions like hospitals and boarding schools. A lot of advertising and awareness campaign to promote organic products will be implemented in order to increase the market share within Hwedza as well as other external markets especially Harare.
In Harare our focus will be on the box system, targeting especially the high income bracket, so that capacity and ability to pay upfront for the produce is not limited. The Marketing share will also be addressed by entering into binding contracts with various interested bulk buyers, who then offer surety for the produces before production commences.
The central Packshed will also work in close relations with the Zimbabwe standard Association so that in the long run the company will be accredited with various standards that improves our reach as well. The various requirements of different markets will be meet by continuously engaging the buyers and taking heed of their various advices to improve service delivery.
This will be done though the creation of e-platforms, as well as engagement through the participatory market system development with various stakeholders within the value chain. During creating of various market system and also engaging players to have a mutual benefit from the market systems, we will simultaneously also work on the coordination of production for the producers.
This is done mainly through open discussions about the pricing of produce at Packshed and the payment modalities, which in most cases the farmers favors to be paid on supply. Then also participatory creation of cropping calendar and agreements of planting dates for the various groups so that there is continuous steady supply of the produces.
Whilst at that it should be noted that most of the farmers might not have access to money to initiate production, therefore we intend to have links and also offer collateral for farmers to have access to inputs (seeds, organic fertilizers if need be), so that quality of produce is not compromised. Pre-planting monitoring and post-planting monitoring and advisory services will be mainly offered by the Government’s ministry of Agriculture’s extension workers, and for them to be interested and take it as a serious task, they will be need to incentives then on the amount of produce delivered to the Packshed from their respective farmers.
Creation of a discussion platform via text messaging will be created and also an open line for advisory services will be offered to farmers so that they can get assistances from the experienced and experts in that field. From these services offered the company will intend to gets enough money to settle various bills, and services provision from the sales of the various produces to the intended market, as well as enough profits to keep on expanding the number of farmers, and line of produce in the central Packshed.
What motivates me to do this project is to seek a long term sustainable, strategic solution to financial security of smallholders farmers who are producing in excess of what they need individually, but to enough to profitably sell to other market outside their communities due to high logistics cost per individual, as well as lack of the necessary requirements to do formal business with strict organizations/companies.
Most of the Market based intervention done by project only last to the last day of the project, therefore lack sustainability in sense that they won’t be economically viable but just cushioned by the funds from the respective program. The creation or present of a private player (me in this case) will create a mutual benefit with farmers, which see both end benefiting financially.
The benefits derived from this initiative besides to fulfill a dream and change the face of market systems when dealing with smallholder farmers, are quite a number. Definitely income for me and the smallholder farmers will be increased and also secured. The project will also work as a yard stick for sustainable strategic market developments for smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe and beyond.
What is in place now is a complete building that have been erected by the organization that I work for, but without the necessary equipment, and also without the initial funds to initiate the buying and selling of vegetables from the 120 farmers. The building is still to be completed by erecting the zero energy cooling chambers for both pre-sorting and post-sorting storages. The ownership of the building currently is in the group of farmers’ proposed company name. therefore, this investment will make me a key shareholder. Also talks about potential partnership have been done prior with the farmers, committee.
My success will be mainly measured in the number of producers engaged, their increase in income, and production for the market output, the balance yearend balance sheet, profitability of the company, number of buyers engaged and volume of produce shipped per period of time.
The $5000, will be used as follows:
Equipment and gargets for central Packshed – $2000; $1000 for advertisement and campaigns, $1000 for initial purchase of the vegetables in the first 14 days (which is usually the duration of payment by most companies), and the $500, is for partial payment of the marketing personnel as well as settling bills before inflow of monies.
Then the last $500 is for securing seeds/seedlings of behalf of farmers who don’t have starting capital, which will be reimbursed by the farmers at no interest.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Jerry Kudakwashe (Zimbabwe) – jerry(at)fambidzanai.org.zw
Photo courtesy CCAFS
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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