In efforts to do away with middlemen who exploit smallholder farmers, denying them profit, Oxfam Tanzania is conducting a pilot study to link Lushoto and Korogwe vegetable producers’ markets to Information Communication Technology (mobile platform) so that they can easily sell their produce and expand markets.
The pilot study which is being conducted in Lushoto and Korogwe has established that farmers are facing various challenges including markets for their vegetables and other crops thus being forced to sell at low prices.
Oxfam’s Private Sector Advisor, Shija Msikula told participants to a one-day workshop attended by vegetable farmers, partners and stakeholders from Lushoto and Korogwe here over the weekend that the new system will enable farmers to communicate with buyers instead of middlemen.
He added that so far Oxfam has entered into a contract with Vodacom Tanzania through the pilot study.
According to him, there are a number of middlemen through whom the farmers have to pass before getting their produce to the market, with each one of them demanding cash, leaving the farmer with little or no profit.
The pilot study has established that 60 per cent of vegetables from Lushoto and Korogwe are eaten by people with low income as their counterparts buy vegetables in supermarkets because the farmers have no guaranteed markets.
“This system is not easy, that is why we started by carrying out a pilot study to establish the challenges facing users … our aim is to help the farmer who spends a lot of money when planting and receives low returns from sales,” he said
He said the aims of economic justice programme are to improve Tanzania’s smallholders’ food security, income and quality of life, through value chain enterprise development initiatives.
Khadija Mhande a vegetable farmer said before Oxfam started giving training to farmers and linked them with other markets in Dar es Salaam, most farmers were forced to sell to middlemen an entire farm full of vegetables with the buyers deciding the price.
“We thank Oxfam for thinking about farmers in Lushoto and Korogwe, at least we now have buyers in Ilala and Kariakoo markets in Dar es Salaam… we can now plant more acres because we have markets,” she said.
She added that when the new system of linking farmers through ICT is complete, it will make things easier for them and improve income of many people in the districts who have suffered for many years.
Oxfam is an international confederation of 15 organisations working together in over 90 countries with partners and allies around the world to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice.