Date Posted: August 4th, 2008
A common concern among African farmers is that they are at the mercy of local traders. Without access to markets or market information, many farmers feel powerless to negotiate with traders. The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) is being hailed as a revolution in Ethiopian agriculture and a model for trading systems in other African countries because it creates a system where farmers are guaranteed a fair market price and traders are guaranteed a good product. In researching this story, we found that South Africa has the only other “viable” commodity exchange in Africa.
In countries where such exchange systems are not available, communication technology is helping some farmers gain access to market information to ensure they get a fair price. Some radio organizations research current market prices and broadcast them regularly. Market information is also more readily available online, and in some areas, farmers can access this information through their cell phones. Another way that farmers can improve their bargaining power is to build good storage facilities for harvested crops. Proper storage ensures that farmers do not have to sell their produce at a time when the market is flooded and prices are low, but rather that they can wait until market prices are favourable.
To learn more about the ECX, visit:
-The official website of the ECX: http://www.ecx.com.et/
-A PowerPoint presentation created by ECX’s CEO and founder, Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin in 2007: http://www.unctad.org/sections/wcmu/docs/c1em33p10_en.pdf
More information on ways farmers can ensure they get the best price for their produce (and how radio organizations can help) are found in the following Farm Radio International scripts:
-A five-part series entitled “To market, to market” (Package 66, Script 6-10):
-“Market News on MEGA FM” (Package 83, Script 3, March 2008): http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/83-3script_en.asp
You may wish to host a call-in/text-in show that allows farmers to discuss the local market situation – the challenges they face and methods they have used to obtain better prices. Here are some questions to ask:
-How do farmers in your area typically sell their produce? Do they feel that this system allows them to earn a fair price?
-What methods do farmers use to obtain information about current market prices?
-Do farmers in your area store their crops until the market price is favourable? How do they prevent damage to their stored product?
-Are there farmers who organize themselves into cooperatives to obtain bargaining power when selling their crops?