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Reconciliation With Private Service Providers

ZambiaKosakAnother overall need for the development community to undertake is a major reconciliation with private service providers as when donor funding ends and the cooperative goes under, it will be the private service providers that will take over the support services. The typical virtually slanderous vilification of private traders as contained in the following quote taken from a marketing project in Zambia:

“… increased market opportunities to enable farmers to improve their produce (both in quality and quantity/variety) and prices by eluding unethical middlemen dictating exploitative prices to farmers will provide a conducive environment for sustained farmer participation and growth”.

This should be recognized as the slander it is, with all the liabilities so implied. If pursued it could be pursued in the donor’s capital or headquarters location, rather than the host capital, particuarily if the offending document was drafted by the donor at the donor’s headquarters. It must also be recognized that most statements are put forth by vested interests in promoting public enterprises including cooperatives, with no substantial proof offered. Is there any proof that this exploitation is taking place? How would one legally quantify exploitation? Or are private traders operating in a highly fragmented competitive family based enterprise environment as is the case in Nepal, and which may such a limited market volume that mandates high markups for the traders to avoid poverty as was shown in Tomato Vender in Zambia and Banana Trader Uganda.

The USAID-funded CARE implemented REAP (Rural Enterprise and Agro-Business Project) is an example of a project that tried to enhance private sector support services for input supply and produce marketing. It supported many village based enterprises, such as the one shown in photo above and mentioned as being with the Lorry Parked in front and only 50 m from the Cheetah marketing point struggling with transport, to provide these services, and was able to effectively continue beyond the initial donor funding. The biggest problem was the need for sufficient cash float to purchase produce at the end of the season. However, this should represent short term credit for 60 to 90 days vs. longer term seasonal production credit, and could be handled with well focused micro-credit projects.

Last Revised:26 March 2010 .

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