Zambian fresh producers revolt against agents at Soweto market

Zambian fresh producers are pushing back against marketing agents at Soweto Market, the country’s main outlet.

Located in the west of the capital Lusaka, Soweto Market is a fresh produce and one-stop destination for retailers, grocers, street traders, the food service industry and regular consumers. An estimated 10 000 buyers visit it every day.

Scores of farmers interviewed by said the agents – who serve as market intermediaries between growers and buyers – are exploiting them by aggressively beating them down on wholesale prices, while charging higher retail prices.

“It is like farmers are now working for the agents who do not spend any money for production,” said Mwape Ngandwe of Lusaka. Ngandwe said he was particularly incensed by a recent incident where marketing agents visited his farm and wanted to buy an entire field of his tomatoes, at a price they set.

He called on other producers to create their own marketing platform to promote farmers’ interests. Ngandwe’s sentiments were echoed by Edward Mwangamba, who said small-scale producers need a mechanism to support their marketing.

“Marketing is not the expertise of the majority of small-scale farmers. As a result, we have agents who have consolidated their buying power to the detriment of producers,” he said.

According to small-scale producers, creating a specific marketing board will ensure they get fair prices for their produce. The proposed board will also provide them with average price bands, based on daily stock levels.

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