The Herald (Harare)

19 July 2014

Zimbabwe: Did You Know That Traders in Agric Markets Also Break Bulk?

For many years now, it has been believed that retailing and wholesaling only occurs in supermarkets and wholesalers where groceries are sold. Many people consider agricultural markets as chaotic places where disorder occurs.

But once you understand the way that the markets operate, you will appreciate how there is clearly defined rhythm and rhyme to the process. Once you know that, you will be able to position yourself to benefit from the advantages of procuring your fresh produce just one step from the source.

It all starts with the farmer who most probably has a lot of one or two crops. The target is to offload this as soon as possible so that the farmer can return to the farm where there is always something that needs urgent attention.

On the other hand you have consumers who need a variety of produce in small quantities. The farmer does not have the time to service their needs which is where the markets come in.

Traders in the wholesale agricultural markets are able to balance the demands of both sides, by collecting an assortment of produce from different farmers, buying them in sufficiently large quantities and selling them to consumers in small units.

By so doing traders would be adding value of the produce sold to the consumers. Consumers are able to choose from a wide range of produce at various sizes and standards. Farmers in the market offer over 40 varieties of produce which are sold to over 2000 traders. Consumers are able to choose from a wide range of produce from just in one location.

Mbare Musika is always a hive of activity and many people believe that it is only for those looking to purchase in bulk. Yet the opposite is actually true.

The market and many others like it are where the bulk is broken into consumer-friendly portions. For half a dollar, you can buy fresh produce of your choice, or you can capitalise on the discounts that come with bulk purchasing, making this the ideal place for all pockets.

Butternuts

Butternuts are purchased by traders from the farmer's market in 50kg Saseka bag and later repacked into small units with prices ranging from 5 rand.

However, consumers ought to buy small quantities because a butternut has a short shelf life and in addition most consumers prefer to consume fresh produce to avoid contamination diseases. Just like other produce, prices vary with demand and supply.

Peak supply of butternuts is from January to May and from October to December. As from June to September there is an erratic supply which generally pushes price a little bit higher.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are purchased by vendors and traders from the farmers' market while packed in boxes with prices ranging from US$2 to US$5 depending on the demand of a produce. Traders in the wholesale market arrange tomatoes for sale into small units. Because of tomatoes' short life span, this is a product that keeps on drawing the consumers to the market. When supply is low, prices spike because this is a staple product that almost everyone needs to prepare every meal.

Sometimes there is oversupply and prices hit rock bottom. Clever consumers can stock up on tomatoes for processing into jam and sun-dried tomatoes.

Potatoes

Potatoes are now a staple food with many households consuming them often. This is one crop that is packaged into pockets right at the farm field.

Potatoes have a long shelf life and large numbers of consumers purchase them while packed in pockets with prizes ranging from US$3 to US$12 depending on sizes and grades. But because we have some people who only get a little money each day and would rather buy very small portions daily, traders break down the sacks into piles priced from R50.

We hope you have found the information useful and fascinating.

Till next week, have a healthy diet.

More insights for farmers, traders and customers can be obtained through eMKambo Call Centre mobile numbers: 0772 137 717/ 0772 137 758/ 0716 331 140-5/ 0771 859 000-5/ 0739 866 343-6. Email: charles@knowledgetransafrica.com, clever@knowledgetransafrica.com, laizah@knowledgetransafrica.com, zvifadzo@knowledgetransafrica.com

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