In Mozambique, a service connecting farmers like Afonso Araujo to critical price and market information is helping them run their farms like businesses. Afonso is an emerging farmer with NCBA CLUSA’s PROMAC II project, funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Maputo.
NCBA CLUSA Mozambique’s Agribusiness Unit (ABU), an umbrella entity responsible for linking all our projects and beneficiaries to private sector suppliers and goods and services, makes us unique in our field.
One of the ABU’s key tasks is to share market and price information between buyers and suppliers—especially during the commodity commercialization period from around June to September each year. The commercialization period in Mozambique is dynamic and fast paced, with a range of local and foreign buyers and their agents active in rural communities. Yet for many of the farmers we support (more than half, in fact, according to our soon-to-be published research conducted with the University Eduardo Mondlane and Boston Carroll School of Business), price and market information is simply not available to them. And when it is, it comes mostly from friends and family. This leaves farmers guessing when and who to sell to and at what price, emphasizing their already vulnerable position in the value chain.
The ABU, however, is changing this, and providing farmers and buyers alike with up-to-date, locally relevant market information to help them make sound business decisions. Through the commercialization period, the ABU collects weekly price information from buying posts, including for each PROMAC II-supported crop (beans, maize, sesame, peanut and soya) and district. This is complimented with additional market information regarding demand (the main commodity buyers active in each district, the crops they are actively buying, the prices they are offering and any specific quality standards they require) and supply (such as farmers’ groups and aggregators with large volumes of aggregated produce ready for sale). Our senior ABU staff then packages this into a weekly Price and Markets Bulletin that we disseminate both internally and externally via four channels: community radio, SMS, PROMAC II extension staff and agrodealers/Community Based Service Providers (CBSPs).
It was thanks to our bulletin that Afonso Araujo—an emerging farmer from the village of Mugema in Alto Molocue District, part of Mozambique’s Zambézia Province—was able to maximize his profit from selling 10 tons of sugar bean surplus in 2020. Acting on advice from his field assistant Albertina Loieque, Afonso made the decision to transport his beans from his home in Mugema—where it was selling for 45MZN/kg—to Capitão-Mor in Molumbo District, where the PROMAC II Price and Market Bulletin indicated that buyers were paying 55MZN/kg, a significant price difference. Even after paying transport costs, Afonso’s beans earned him 6.5MZN/kg more than the local price, giving him a total additional gain of 65,000MZN (around USD$1,000) above what he would otherwise have earned had he sold to local traders.
Without access to PROMAC II staff and the price bulletin, Afonso wouldn’t have known what other options were available to him. Even if he had, he would have been cautious to take the plunge—what if, when he got his product to Molombo District, it turned out to be too good to be true? Here, PROMAC II support was also critical. Rather than simply providing Afonso with hard, quantitative price data, PROMAC II ensured that he was also able to apply this data and translate it into sound business decisions.
By engaging directly with buyers on a daily basis, Albertina (Afonso’s field assistant) was there to provide him with real-time advice should the situation on the ground change. She also helped Afonso identify a local transport provider and run the calculations to compare his different options to ensure there were no surprises at the end of the day. Armed with this backup, support and information, Araujo had the confidence to proactively and confidently go in search of higher paying markets.