At Chinsisi farmer field and business school — located 10 km south of Kasungu District in Kabuluzi village— 21 women and one man gather weekly to learn new planting methods.
This year, the group leadership organized to bulk and sell their produce collectively, after all 22 group members planted and harvested Soya beans. Optimistic, the producer group contacted their Farmer to Farmer Trainer to link them to potential buyers. However, when the initial buyer did not show up at the promised time, the farmers started losing hope and trust.
Rather than disband, the group agreed to look for other alternatives. Setting aside their frustrations, they went to Export Trading Group (ETG) to negotiate the prices and sell-time for the quantity of their soya.
Highly organized, the members agreed to borrow $47, from the Chinsisi Village Savings and Loans group to hire an oxcart to transport their produce to ETG depot. Such coordination facilitated great negotiating power, only attainable when selling collectively.
The Chinsisi producer group sold 3600 kg of Soya in two different lots and days. They sold the first lot of 1700 kg of soya at USD 0.39/kg, and the second lot at US$ 0.40/kg which, in total earned Malawian Kwacha 549,000.00 (US$1445). In contrast, the vendors within the locality were buying Soya at a mere US $0.34.
Chinsisi members were satisfied, not only for having sold at a higher price, but also because ETG used standardized weighing scales, approved by Malawi bureau of standards. In the past, farmers sold to vendors who used unstandardized scales—essentially robbing farmers of their produce.
Proving the advantage of selling collectively, members have put their money to good use; many bought farm inputs while others bought burnt bricks and corrugated iron sheets to build themselves modern houses.
Furthermore, fetching a better price gave producer group members the courage to start contributing an agreed monthly subscription. They hope to save enough money to cover the following year’s cost of transporting goods to ETG, ensuring the sustainability of their newly augmented incomes.
Written by Daniel Soka, Farmer Field Advisor, Malawi
Edited by Melissa Jennings