|Cattle buyers take advantage of farmers’ desperation|
|Sunday, 24 February 2013 17:37|
Lorraine PhiriUNSCRUPULOUS cattle buyers have descended on farmers around Lupane taking advantage of their desperation to buy cattle at give away prices.
This came to light during a Lupane farmers’ forum organised by Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) at Masenyane Primary School on Wednesday last week.
Farmers said the buyers were taking advantage of their ignorance of market prices to swindle them of their cattle.
“Lack of access to the right information about market prices helps city buyers take advantage of us. We sometimes sell our cattle for $250, as we will be desperate for money,” said Ms Adelaide Ndlovu.
Another farmer identified as Mr Sibanda, said they were selling their cattle to the nearest buyer, as they did not have direct access to reliable buyers.
“We sell our cattle to middlemen, who give us less money for the value of our cattle, as we have no money to transport the cattle to town and sell them directly to reliable buyers,” said Mr Sibanda.
Farmers also bemoaned the fact that reliable buyers delayed paying them for their produce.
“Grain Marketing Board (GMB) pays us late for our grain. That is why we sometimes sell to unscrupulous buyers, who give us money instantly,” said a farmer.
ZFU national joint commodity council chairperson for livestock, Mr Bishop Malaba said farmers must not take for granted the value of cattle.
“Farmers must form groups and ZFU will try to organise reliable buyers for their produce. Unscrupulous buyers are taking advantage of them by buying cattle for as little as $250, which is a give away price for a cow while others exchange 2kg of sugar for a bag of maize,” he said.
Mr Malaba, however, urged farmers to try new ways of livestock keeping such as feedlots so that they produce quality livestock, which would be bought at higher prices. ZFU president Mr Silas Hungwe said farming was a business and every farmer deserved to get value for his or her produce.
“Farmers should form commodity association groups, which will allow them to bulk their produce and market at better prices, as it gives them one voice to bargain for the right price with the buyers. The groups will also give farmers the opportunity to buy inputs together and achieve cost advantages,” said Mr Hungwe.
“I hope everyone is aware that the Government has no money at the moment, as the economy recovers, we have no doubt GMB will pay in time”.
He said ZFU had created a market guide and was in the process of developing a cellphone system to provide farmers with market prices for their produce.
“ZFU weekly market guide provides farmers with information on companies and individuals, who want to buy their produce, the prices they are offering and how they can contact them.
“At the moment we are also developing a cellphone system to enable farmers to receive regular information on production and marketing,” said Mr Hungwe.