It makes selling easier

12 March 2018

Christina Msalato and Abigael Mlonga are vendors in Msalato Village (just outside the city of Dodoma). Since farmers are now producing better quality products, selling has become easier.

Smallholder farmers like vendors Christina Msalato and Abigael Mlonga sell a lot, because they offer what farmers regard as a fair price for produce, even while the profit margins after selling are low. For example, if the ladies buy tomatoes at TZS 800 per kg, they resell at TZS 1000 per kg. This is in stark contrast to some other buyers who offer the farmers a lower price and put a big mark-up on the selling price.

The job of Christina and Abigael is made easier by farmers who use better quality varieties seeds advocated for by SEVIA. “We are for instance very happy with the quality of this tomato variety (Victory F1). It has a uniform shape, tastes good and the skin shows no bruises. Our customers like it too,” they told SEVIA extension officer Mseti Mwita recently. “It makes selling easier.” SEVIA advices farmers to choose improved varieties, because these are also more resilient to pests and diseases and are known to deliver a higher yield.

Selling of farm produce is a major challenge to many of vegetable farmers in Tanzania. A lot of farmers focus on accessing town and cities markets since they believe they can fetch higher prices. This fact is known to favour larger vegetable growers since they can sell their produce in bulk. Large growers have two advantages in selling their produce; they can sell wholesale to markets or directly to processing industries. Most small scale farmers are forced to keep on selling their produce to market speculators, middleman or directly to the market. By doing this, they sometimes get low profit due to high bargaining power of the traders or are confronted with costs for taking the produce to the market. By improving the quality of the produce or e.g. choosing varieties that have very specific characteristics, farmers might attract specific traders and gain more selling opportunities.