Some Nyanga farmers who reaped a bumper harvest of sugar beans are stuck with their crop due to poor prices on the market.
Some of the farmers at Nyamaropa Irrigation Scheme have been forced to sell their produce at very low prices on the informal market to offset production costs, while others have opted to hold on until prices stabilise.
Nyamaropa Irrigation Scheme chairman, Mr Michael Nyadome, said the marketing side has been a major drawback for the farmers.
“We used to have a marketing department but we realised that it was not working as expected and we disbanded it,” he said.
“Our traditional major markets for sugar beans are the big companies like National Foods, Victoria Foods, Blue Ribbon and others, but they pay using local currency. By the time that money gets to the farmers, it would have been eroded by inflation and the farmer will not make a profit. When you factor in the production costs, it becomes too expensive to grow sugar beans,” he said.
Ordinarily, the price of sugar beans varies between US$20 and US$25 for a 20-litre bucket, but farmers have been selling for as low as US$15.
Mr Nyadome said farmers were now relying on informal buyers who come to the scheme.
“The challenge is that when the buyer comes, he offers a price without considering the production costs the farmer would have incurred. But because the farmer is desperate and there is no one else offering a better price, he is forced to accept. So they are recording loses,” said Mr Nyadome.
Another farmer, Mr Prince Hondo, said he was going to hold on to his crop until the prices go up.
“I would rather keep my beans until the prices go up. We really need to have more buyers coming in to drive that price up,” he said.
Mr Jephat Mandisodza, who is also part of the scheme, expressed concern that they may not be able to return to the field this year.
“We really have nowhere to sell our produce. Very few buyers are coming in and we cannot take our crop to the markets because of travel restrictions due to Covid-19.
“We might incur more expenses taking our produce to markets in Mutare or Harare, only to get the same prices. It is better to wait for the buyers here,” he said.