Farmers in Kasungu have complained of unavailability of reliable markets for their farm produce, a situation which they say is forcing them to sale to vendors at very low prices.
Speaking on Friday during a two day agriculture fair conducted in the district, the farmers said they do not have bargaining power over prices for their own produce as the unscrupulous vendors always dictate prices for them.
“The buyers determine the prices for us instead of us setting the prices for our produce. If we look at the cost of inputs and what we gain at the end there is always a loss,” Chairperson for Kakha Cooperative of Traditional Authority (TA) Kaluluma, said William Tambala, disclosed.
A lead farmer from Suza village in TA Kaomba, Ruth Gongwa accused the vendors of not adhering to government set minimum prices for farm produce.
Senior Chief Kaomba said there is need to build capacity of the cooperatives so that they are strengthened.
“Ministry of Trade and Industry has not given mandate to trade officers and agriculture officers at the district to train cooperatives. This is making the cooperatives not to be able to operate in an ideal way and find better markets for themselves,” he pointed out.
District Agriculture and Extension Coordinating Committee (DAECC) and other partners decided to hold the agriculture fair to help link farmers to buyers, transporters, financial institutions and agro-dealers among others.
Kasungu District Council Chairperson, Greeny Kacherenga said farmers should take advantage of the fair and create partnerships.
The Agriculture Fair was held under a theme ‘Building Agribusiness Partnerships for Wealth Creation.’