Smallholder maize farmers stand to benefit from assured markets and better prices through a contract between Rollex Private Limited and the Agro-dealers Associations of Mashonaland Central and West provinces in Zimbabwe. This contract, facilitated by SNV, will see smallholder farmers in the two provinces supply 30,000 tonnes of maize to Rollex. The contract, calculated at the present market prices for maize, is worth over US$ 6 million.
Mr. Joseph Mapiki, chairperson of the Agro-dealers Association for Mashonaland Central, noted that Rollex is offering better prices for maize as compared to the middlemen. These middlemen, who have been the main buyers in the provinces, purchase maize at US$180 per tonne compared to US$ 200. Mr. Mapiki also indicated that the role of the agro dealer in the rural communities was increasingly widening in scope. Agro-dealers not only provide services for the supply of agricultural inputs to farmers but also facilitate bulking of produce to volumes required by markets.
Under the contract, the agro dealers will facilitate mobilisation and registration of smallholder farmers willing to sell their maize within this arrangement. They also act as the first eye for produce grading and advise smallholder farmers seeking to sell their maize of the quality requirements of Rollex. The agro-dealer also provides storage for produce delivered by the farmers. They will also be responsible for providing insurance against theft and damage by fire for the stored produce prior to collection by Rollex. The decision to have the insurance policies taken out by the agro-dealers promotes the entrenchment of good business practice. As soon as adequate quantities are secured to fill a truck load, the agro dealer communicates with Rollex to arrange for collection. Supplying farmers are in turn informed of the agreed collection date. In addition to the benefit of having a confirmed market, farmers also benefit from the presence of the agro-dealers within their communities. This will reduce the distance and related costs incurred by the smallholder farmers in transporting produce to output markets.
Under the agreement, Rollex assumes responsibility for produce quality control and grading on site at the agro-dealer collection point prior to transporting the produce. Rollex also facilitates payment to the supplying farmers upon collection of the produce. Rollex will pay commissions to the agro-dealer for every tonne of maize secured, creating a win–win business opportunity for the parties involved.
This is one of the initiatives undertaken by SNV in Zimbabwe to facilitate bulking of produce through the agro-dealer network. Plans are underway to roll the initiative to the other provinces of Zimbabwe as a strategy to promote improved participation in and access to high-value output markets by small-scale farmers.
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