Creating unique collaborations between the public and private sectors to support industry development has been key in our work to empower smallholders to become active participants in the world economy, EFF looks to partner with the public and private sector. Meaningful partnerships have been formed with: market buyers, government agencies, research and development institutions, donor organizations, input suppliers, transport companies, farming technology companies and impact investors. However, EFFs main partner is our corporate benefactor, Export Trading Group (ETG).
One of the main issues facing smallholders is their lack of access to consistent and steady demand. EFF has bridged the gap between rural farmers and market buyers by setting up rural buying points and agro-shops where farmers can sell their commodities for cash and/or in exchange for agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, seeds and other farming products otherwise inaccessible in these remote farming communities. EFF also aids smallholders in post-harvest handling by providing training on cleaning, drying, sorting and grading of commodities, which is critical to meet the quality demands of commercial buyers. This work has been critical for our Sesame farmers in Zimbabwe who have only been growing sesame over the past two seasons. With the expansion of the project and the growing number of farmers, EFF has worked alongside ETG to ensure that the sesame being produced by Zimbabwean smallholder farmers will meet market expectation and that the farmers will get the best price for the quality crop.
Since the farming season in Zimbabwe suffered from severe rainfall, many farmers had to replant their sesame and as a result procurement for the sesame crop this year will begin much later than previous seasons. This season EFF and ETG will begin opening procurement depots in mid-June as many farmers will be experiencing late harvests. Our depots for sesame will also provide farmers with specially designed and manufactured sesame cleaning machines, offering cleaning services to farmers for their commodity and ensuring they get the best price for their harvest. EFF recently provided the first in our procurement training sessions to our depot supervisors and field extension officers preparing them for the expected farmer yields in their areas.