18 October 2012

Tanzania: Middlemen Dog Farmers' Welfare

COMPETITION among middlemen has undermined farmers' earnings by determining and offering low prices which do not reflect the real market value of crops.

This was said in Dar es Salaam by the Tanzania Exporters Association (TANEXA) Executive Director, Mr Laurence Naluyaga, at the consultative workshop for enhancing food security in Eastern Africa. "Co-operative Societies and farmers unions in most regions were lacking powers to intervene on matters related to prices of crops, thus making farmers earnings lower than the cost of production," he said.

He said the middlemen have established an artificial fencing in some regions with high food productivity to protect their interests and ensure that there is no interference on the pricing already set to serve their profit making motives. "Some business persons (middlemen) have been inflating prices for food commodities after learning that other traders want to deal directly with farmers," he said.

In a typical case, he cited the Singida Region where greedy traders have been controlling and determining the prices for sunflower, offering farmers very little while blocking other traders to enter the market. To ensure fair trade prevailed for the benefits of both farmers and the whole business community including local exporters, Mr Naluyaga called for an urgent need for the government to address the shortcomings for a win win situation.

He said the government should further establish price strategy that could make farmers and exporters enjoy the benefits accrued from engagement on farming activities. "Our food prices are high and continue to be volatile because of lack of a proper system to gather and dispatch information on the volume of production and the available markets and across the region," said Dr Michael Waithaka at the consultative workshop.

Dr Waithaka from the Association of Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), called for the need for government interventions to ensure the smooth flow of agro products from production point to the markets.

He said the ASARECA will be providing necessary information on the availability of crops, particularly food for the government to take informed decisions instead of banning exports.

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