Traders are important partners to smallholder farmers. They often offer an important and cheaper outlet for farmers who want to dispense their produce rather than wait for the consumers to visit them. However, by operating individually, traders limit their opportunities towards business development in terms of capital growth, purchasing power and access to quality and required volumes.
At Mbuyuni market, 553 Km from Tanzania’s largest city, Dar es Salaam, traders have devised measures that help them leverage the previously existing stalled opportunities. This was made possible through a series of trainings and sensitization initiatives by Farm Concern International (FCI) with support from European Commission and HiVos through Agri-Nutrition for Coffee Zone Programme in Tanzania.
Mbuyuni market was not any different from any other local markets. Its members traded individually and earned less or no profit, a situation that had almost become a norm. What they had not realized however was that, by operating independently, each of them impeded his/her own business and incomes. They realised this through the sensitizations and trainings offered by FCI. In turn, they formed trader associations to improve their business.
Ushirikiano Mboga Mboga Group (UMMG) is one of the established trader associations in Mbuyuni market. FCI supported this group to adhere to all the essential requirements for association/group formation such as election of leaders, constitution development and strategy development. The group consists of 20 members trading in various value chains including Traditional African Vegetables (TAVs), cereals, legumes, bananas, onions and tomatoes.
“The association has helped us to increase our purchasing capacity. Most of the buyers were buying 150 kgs of TAVs per week and now they are able to buy and sell an average of 240Kgs per week,” testified Ashura Abeid Mmilandi, a trader and association leader.
The continuous support from FCI has seen Ushirikiano Mboga Mboga Group establish a saving plan in which each member contributes TZS 50,000 (US$ 30.3) which amounts to TZS 1,000,000 (US$ 606.1) per month. Among the early signs of growth was demonstrated when the association started to provide loans for its members.
Through the association, members plan to increase their capital, access wider markets, and access quality produce with the required volumes. The association also intends to expand further by supporting orphans as part of their social response to improve livelihoods in their area.
FCI VISION : To have commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond