Agricultural Commodity Exchange for Africa (ACE) says storing commodities in safe and certified warehouse is the safest way to avoid post-harvest loses which is currently pegged at 30 percent.
Speaking during a farmer field day in Mchinji, programme manager for ACE William Kawenda said smallholder farmers who contribute 75 percent of food consumed, need to benefit as much from the produce they harvest by making sure that they are keeping their commodities in certified warehouses.
“There are about 3.5 million smallholder farmers in the country whose main problem, among others, are storage, access to finance and markets. Because of such, these farmers are forced to sell their commodities at cheaper prices, especially during harvest period as they are afraid of post-harvest losses, they want money, and are not sure if the commodity will find a market.
“At ACE, we have a system, where a farmer can have access to finance and markets by using commodity as collateral. By depositing the commodity in our warehouse, a smallholder farmer automatically qualifies,” he said.
According to Kawenda, the project, which is funded by Usaid, will ensure that smallholder farmers also find easy markets to avoid being ripped off by vendors.
“This is the best time for this message as most farm produce is being harvested, we want smallholder farmers to reap from their hard-earned work. There is no need to rush and sell off commodity,” he said.
Extension methodology officer for the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Rita Makwakwa, said the main challenge smallholder farmers face is finance and markets. According to her, warehouses receipt system is a positive step in solving the challenges.