Zimbabwean farmers contemplate getting rid of the middlemen.
Complaining through the eMkambo Whatspp farmers’s group one Harare resident talks of having seen farmers being ripped off by middlemen whom he calls “makoronyera” who take produce from farmers at a lower price and sell at double the price. Makoronyera are an organised but informal group of middlemen who happen to control the price on the market. They wait for desperate farmers bringing their produce from far away places like Rusape, Honde Valley Murehwa e.t.c to sell on the market and they buy all the produce at a very low price and start reselling at a much higher prices. It takes a farmer months of investment and hard work to grow the produce, yet it takes the middlemen a day to make the same profit if not better out of the same produce. Why are farmers so vulnerable and where are the authorities to protect the poor farmer? Is this not corruption in the making?
Why can’t farmers and their real customers link up without these middlemen (Makoronyera)?, asked Tafirenyika Kakono one of the participants in the discussion. It is generally difficult for farmers to resist these middlemen as they wield so much power that they can cause commotion on the market if they want to. They are organised, and yet farmers are not. They have time to wait for customers for the whole day while farmers prefer selling once and catch the next bus back home. They have the skill, experience and guts to shout for the whole day attracting customers the “market style” negotiating and bargaining. One Tawanda Kaseke concludes that the middlemen are an evil necessity.
Charles Dewa suggests that the market needs better characterisation in terms of actors, operations and other critical factors. Other participants seem to suggest that action needs to be taken to get rid of these middlemen and pave way for farmers to get a worth of their effort.
This is not only a problem in Zimbabwe. Farmers in the whole SADC region suffer the same challenge. The middlemen determine the form and shape of all prices without any consideration of the cost of production. A desperate farmer is there to take or leave it. Despite improvements in communication of market information, most smallholder farmers do not have any means to transport their goods to the market. They wait for middlemen to come and collect from the farms. In cases where farmers transport their goods to the market, they meet yet another middleman of the “makoronyera” type controlling the market.
If farmers are to realize any meaningful profit from their produce, something has to happen. How do we deal with this necessary evil if its really necessary? Surely farming may never be attractive to youth if the playing field is so uneven, one would rather be the middleman. One wonders what should be done.