Women farmers hard at work with their soya bean crop in Central Province (Copyright: Victoria Cavanagh)
Through the Purchase for Progress scheme - or P4P, as it is known - WFP and its partners are helping to provide an alternative market for farmers and to transform the way they do business.
Farmers in Zambia’s Central Province have cleaned, bagged and bulked their soya beans and sold a combined total of 16.75MT through the Zambian Agricultural Commodity Exchange (ZAMACE) to CHC Commodities in Lusaka. Each farmer was paid ZMK2, 700 per kg (farm gate price less marketing costs), as against ZMK1, 800 per kg offered to them by local traders.
This is the first time members of Tembwe, Kapyanga Women’s, Kabengeshi and ZNS Lwanshimba Multi-Purpose cooperatives have used ZAMACE to market their commodities. In previous seasons, their soya beans were sold to local traders who offered a low share of the terminal price but provided quick cash and markets at the farm gate. This is common in Zambia due to immediate cash needs and small quantities which leave farmers very little bargaining power.
WFP’s pilot programme, Purchase for Progress (P4P), focuses on transforming the way smallholder farmers market their produce. By strengthening ZAMACE and promoting private sector-run district warehouses, WFP and partners are helping to provide an alternative commercial market for farmers.
Accessing better markets P4P Zambia staff member, Maiko Uchida, says the scheme is designed to empower smallholder farmers by facilitating access to better markets, thus increasing their negotiating power.
“By smallholder farmers coming together, they are able to capture higher prices and this [soya bean sale] shows that, when farmers get together, they are able to access higher market prices for their produce,” says Uchida.
In order to sell commodities through the ZAMACE platform, soya beans must be cleaned, aggregated and bagged according to guidelines to ensure they are of Grade A quality. This requires more effort from the farmer but it is worth it, according to Alex Chansa who recently sold 12 bags through ZAMACE and received ZMK1, 620, 000 (approximately USD$350).
Planning for next season
“When I was planting last year, I thought I would sell to traders again,” he says. “But it took a long time to harvest because I have few animals and, when I was finished, the traders had stopped buying soya beans. When I found out that I could sell through ZAMACE I was very happy. I got paid immediately and the price was good. I can use this money to prepare and plan for the next season.”
Over the past two years, WFP Zambia has purchased some 37, 500MT of local produce through ZAMACE.