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Market Voices: How to ensure fair trading? The farmers' perspective



Many stakeholders play a role in agricultural trading. Farmers produce the crops and sell to buyers or vendors and sometimes government agencies. Government sets minimum trading prices (farm gate prices).

However, it seems there is a lot of ‘blame game’ in the trading business. As such, no party feels that the trading is fair. A lot of factors are at play. In the Market Voices film series, the PROSPER programme documents the views of important players in the game : the farmers and buyers.

Farmers rely on their produce for livelihood. Their expectation is to earn a profit after sales. However, their dream is not fully realised – sometimes not even partially fulfilled. They say that vendors and companies offer very low prices.

Egile Chikhwaya, a farmer from Balaka district, says despite government’s setting prices, vendors and most companies do not follow the set prices.

In the film The Commodity Market: Farmers’ Voice, Ms Chikhwaya says:

“We pay attention when government announces farm gate prices. But when buyers come, they offer their own prices which are lower than those gazetted. When we take them to task, they say that government has its own prices and they also have theirs.”

Samson Bwanali (also from Balaka) corroborates Ms Chikhwaya’s view. He says because farmers do not have anywhere else to go, they are forced to sell their produce to vendors at low prices.

Use of untraded scales by buyers is also a concern for farmers. A farmer from Mangochi has this to say:

“As we mourn the low prices vendors offer, the scales they use are not honest. They bring untraded scales which they easily tamper with. Thus, we get cheated. We end up selling more produce than the [stated] weights,” he lamented.

Although the situation is like this, farmers suggest that the government should be monitoring compliance of traders with the set prices, ensure the weighing scales used are not tampered with, and that the government-owned Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) should be more heavily involved in regulation.