Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nguruman farmers engage in Contract farming at last

By Samuel Nzioka

Nguruman area has for a long time been known for its high production due to availability of water for irrigation throughout the year. Farmers have been cultivating their crops and selling them without proper channels in place and have sometimes fallen into wrong hands thus suffering losses. This trend didn’t take long before the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and Horticultural Development Authority (HCDA) took action and made it a requirement for every agent to sign a contract with farmers who will be supplying them with farm produce.

The agreement stipulates the produce in terms of type, quantity and quality for a specific period of time and price. To facilitate this process, farmers formed marketing groups under which they signed contracts with the agents on behalf of the exporters. 

Asian vegetable at a collection point in Nguruman

This came at a time when farmers were facing high production costs due to high prices for farm inputs. It was a sign of relief to farmers as strict measures were to be taken to any party breaching the contract terms and conditions. This is an important measure to cushion the farmer from buyers who offers low prices since a standard price for each farm produce was set and any breach will attract a fine or even ban from buying.

Farmers were taken through gross margin analysis to help them figure out how much they spend to produce a carton or kilogram of horticultural crops they have in season. Every buyer or agent is required to have registered with MOA and HCDA before he can be allowed to buy any farm produce under existing conditions. They should also have a list of farmers they are buying from, and how much each farmer is producing together with a signed agreement between the agent and the farmers group.

Farmers were assured that HCDA is mandated to protect them and to ensure fairness they should ensure that they stick to the agreement.

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