The entry of middlemen in Ijombe ward, Mbeya District has greatly affected women who end up selling their farm produce cheaply to them for fear it will rot before securing better buyers.
Sevelina Mwanahewa who is one of the affected producers, said the absence of markets has forced them to sell their produce, mainly tomatoes, onions and carrots at a cheap price to the middlemen fearing that they will rot for lack of buyers.
“It is not easy to preserve these crops, though we depend on them to earn a living,” she said.
She called on the government to build them a market where they can negotiate competitive prices to enable them fight poverty.
The women were talking to a group of Journalists visiting the area under the Tanzania Gender and Networking Programme (TGNP).
The team discovered that the ward had no market though it was producing a lot of tomatoes, onions and carrots.
A middleman who preferred anonymity said they took advantage of the absence of markets to buy the produce at cheap prices.
“We buy the whole farm say of tomatoes, or onions, and then we start selling them after harvesting,” he said.
He said a farm can be bought for the meagre price of 25,000/-, which he said was the highest price they paid to the producers.
The district business and marketing official, Castro Temigunga admitted that the lack of market was behind the poor price paid to the producers.
“We are aware of the influx of middlemen into the area. The government is struggling to solve the problem,” said the official.
Temigunga also admitted that there was need to raise farmers’ awareness and especially women who were major sellers of the products.
“We are planning to organise training for farmers to help them negotiate for better prices from the middlemen,” he said.