Word from the market with AMA
The supply of agricultural inputs for the farming community is an important component of the agricultural value chain.
A major player in this value chain is the rural agro-dealers who trade different agricultural products for the benefit of the farming community. Agro-dealers are entrepreneurs whose business is to give farmers access to agricultural inputs, farming technologies and allied services.
Along the inputs value chain, agro-dealers are vital in availing agricultural inputs, transportation services, storage services and to some extent the provision of agricultural extension services. Inputs manufacturers and wholesalers supply agro-dealers with inputs such as insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, crop seeds, fertilisers, non-prescription veterinary remedies, and farming implements such as ploughs and spares among a range of products.
Agro-dealers can be involved in commodity trading dealing with the bulking of crops such groundnuts which can then be marketed to bulk buyers and processors along the value chain.
The contribution of rural
agro-dealers to the economy
Rural agro-dealers are at the heart of economic activities at growth points and rural business centres. Rural District Councils collect revenue from agro-dealers and supermarkets that are involved in agro dealership activities.
Agro-dealers are a repository of technical knowledge that then cascades to farmers within their areas of operation. In addition, they are expected to have product knowledge in terms of seed varieties that are suitable for a particular area.
Within the smallholder farming sector, there is now an increased use of herbicides due to challenges of labour available for tasks such as weeding. This means that agro-dealers need to have knowledge of different herbicides that local farmers can use on their different crops.
Together with agricultural extension officers and agronomists of seed houses, agro-dealers are useful in the decision-making for the distribution of inputs through various schemes meant to assist farmers.
Some agro-dealers are also involved in value addition in projects such as peanut butter processing with notable examples coming from Buhera district. In terms of the outputs value chain, agro-dealers play a role as aggregators of produce, gathering and processing of market intelligence, provision of warehousing facilities as well as provision of transportation services.
The way forward for rural
agro-dealers in Zimbabwe
Organisation is very important for agro-dealers for them to articulate their challenges using a common platform. It is noted that there are several districts and provincial agro-dealer associations, and it is imperative for agro-dealers to work towards the formation of a national agro-dealers association.
In the meantime, there is a need to strengthen the existing associations through training in various aspects of the trade. The advantage of being organised is that agro-dealers will be able to lobby for product support and favourable terms of trade, lobby on the review of unfavourable legislative provisions, and generally relate to other bodies in the agriculture sector on a common platform.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) through the Alliance for Commodity Trading in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) has over the last decade provided training to agro-dealers in several member countries. Such training efforts will yield higher benefits if agro-dealers are properly organised.
Word from the market is a column produced by the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA). This article was written by Dr Walter Masakure Manyangarirwa, Head of Department of Agricultural Sciences at Africa University. Feedback firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org