With the crop marketing season fast approaching, it is important for farmers to understand that they have the right to sell their produce to the highest bidder and not necessarily the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
When Government established the FRA, its purpose was clearly spelt out as an organisation tasked to manage national strategic food reserves and perhaps as a buyer of last resort.
According to the FRA mission statement, it was created to ensure a reliable supply of agricultural commodities for the country, to meet local shortfalls and to meet other food emergencies caused by either droughts or floods.
The FRA also addresses issues affecting food reserves and the stabilization of prices and essential food supply.
These are the reasons why the FRA is sometimes called the buyer of the last resort.
And since the FRA is a Government agency, it normally waits for funding from the State treasury to buy crops for strategic reserves.
But with a limited resource envelope, it is not always easy for FRA to receive the needed resources to pay farmers whenever they deliver their crops. It will even be trickier this year as it is clear that the national budget deficit has affected all sectors of Government spending.
Therefore, farmers should understand their market by identifying the many organisations and individuals in the business of buying maize. The farmers should carefully understand the players in the business of buying maize and target them and negotiate a good price for their maize. Doing so will end the ever cries of delays by the FRA to pay farmers who supply maize on time.
But this is not entirely aimed at discouraging farmers from doing business with the FRA.
If the FRA is the highest bidder in maize buying then the farmers should wait for the agency’s announcement of the crops floor price.
Moreover, many trust the FRA because it is an organisation one can easily identify unlike some briefcase businessmen who sometimes swindle the hard working farmers.
This is reason some farmers target the FRA as the first resort for their maize because it is a credible institution.
But as stated, the possibility of being swindled should not drive fear in farmers so as to limit their market.
The farmers should avoid sole traders who do not have fixed business premises where they can complain to in case the business transaction backfires.
It is important for farmers to demand legal documents in their transactions which they can use in case a legal process is necessary.