Market dynamics are the same and apply without bias to both the small and large scale farmers. The stringent rules of quality, quantity and sustainable supply cut across the board; whether one is in small or large scale farming. A definite way to ensure the smallholder farmer survives the constantly changing market environment is ‘collective action’. Collective action has been defined as “group activities that directly or indirectly enhance production and marketing of agricultural and food products…” and “action by members of a group or cooperative who come together to share market knowledge, transact and develop business opportunities.”
Through its programmes, which employ the Commercial Village Model, Farm Concern International has for some time now propagated collective action across Africa. Through the Northern Tanzania Rice Commercialization Programme implemented by Farm Concern International (FCI) with support from World Vision Australia, FCI has registered 10,426 farmers and enabled them to make collective bargains for their produce. Smallholder farmers can now access markets easily due to aggregation and collective marketing of produce. In the third quarter (April-June 2014) of the second year, the programme enabled farmers to sell 3,192.92 metric tons of rice and 10.38 metric tons of green grams worth TZS 2,225,489,590 (USD 1,390,930.99).
Collective action has also enabled farmers in 51 Commercial Producer Groups (CPGs) acquire vital training on institutional management and leadership. CPGs are now run professionally through market and value addition sub-committees. These committees are tasked with searching for markets, negotiating with buyers and facilitating collective sales. With all these benefits resulting from collective action, the future definitely looks bright for farmers who are members of the Northern Tanzania Rice Commercialization Programme.
FCI VISION : To have commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond