Appreciation of the role of aggregation and developing action plans towards its implementation was the focus of a workshop held by Agriterra and facilitated by Agriprofocus in Lundazi and Katete.
The capacity building which was Kicked off with a training workshop in August in Lundazi and Katete, provided an opportunity to deepen and expand farmer engagement with focus on Aggregation of produce.
The workshop brought together participants from leadership positions from over 8 cooperatives that are supported by the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) under its Sustainable Integrated Land Management Solutions project (SILMS). The SILMS project is focused on improving market access of farmers practicing climate smart agriculture interventions.The capacity building programme in aggregation is aimed at enhancing market linkages.
Speaking during the opening of the workshop, AgriProFocus Zambia Country Coordinator Yvonne Mtumbi said it was important that farmers start to aggregate their produce if they are to access sustainable markets for their climate smart produced produce. Aggregation of produce was noted to potentially increase their bargaining power.
Following the training, some farmer groups have started Aggregating the produce. One of the farmer groups from Kakumba Camp in Lundazi recorded selling 263 bags of Maize whilst the farmer groups in Mwase 1 recorded a sale of 2160 to pilot the aggregation system.
A number of issues and findings were noted from the market assessment that was conducted prior to the training and it was clear that farmers had low bargaining power due to sale of their produce in minimal quantities. Further farmers have limited access to market and price information, absence of grading system for the produce before selling and poor calibration of scales also contribute to the farmers challenges in farming sustainably. Aggregation of the produce by farmer groups will assist the farmers to run their farming as sustainable businesses.
Regarding the training delivered by Agriterra, it was emphasized that the content was tailored to meet the needs of the participants and the objectives of the market survey findings. “The facilitators have ensured that the content is adequate, practical and not complicated.’’ Ms. Mtumbi said.
The training covered topics on the principles of aggregation, the principles of aggregation, Commodity Flow, Aggregation Model development & Management Structure design, the roles & responsibilities of Aggregation actors, key roles of Management and staffing, payment options of farmers and staff remunerations, storage and quality (Postharvest Management), record keeping at different levels of aggregation and development of action plans.