I have just arrived home after spending a week ”in the field” participating in a survey for Feed the Future Incorporating Nutrition in Value Chains. Here is one of the lessons i have learnt from this exercise:
Smallholder farmers know that prices will be very high starting from October to February when many people have exhausted their harvest. They also know that they can make a lot of money if sell their produce during these months. However, because they are pressed with immediate cash needs now, they decide to forgo potential income during the lean season by selling their produce soon after harvest. The most important thing to note here is that they make this decision consciously.
I am starting to get the feeling that if development projects are to help smallholder farmers up their incomes from agricultural output, they should support them during harvest time by ”locking” the produce for a month or two while giving the farmers soft loans to enable them handle household pressures. By the time they “unlock” the produce, the prices would have improved such that farmers can repay the loan and remain with ”change”
P/S: some vendors are misinforming farmers that soy prices will drop next week which is making some farmers sell their produce in a panic mode “while prices are still high”