I didnt get to see any useful material on the Farmers' Market initiative by Oxfam, etc (until replying this comment, I thought it was a program 'Farmers' Market Initiative' and that was what I had been looking for), I will get back to researching it.
We'd like to know whether long term relationships are developing and whether buyers are changing between suppliers. Does it encourage a longer term predictable relationship so that a farmer is able to supply regularly to order and predict their costs and income over an extended time period? Is there a risk is of buyers long-term between suppliers leaving farmers with an unsold stock.
Our interest is to build and develop long term relationships with producers on one side and buyers on the other. When a producer like Miriam comes on board and has a successful crowdsourcing campaign where they sell all their farm produce, it is unlikely that they would come back since they have nothing to sell, until the next harvest cycle.
Our buyers’ (busy professionals living in cities – grocery shoppers) needs are more frequent. Weekly, Fortnightly, Monthly.
But because buyers can see producers details and history, they may be more drawn to purchase by supporting producers and communities anytime they have a campaign.
It does offer predictability for farmers and this will become much better over time with data, which can provide farmers with information such as the most viable produce, the most requested, etc.
Our solution limits the risks by attempting to help farmers sell a few days/weeks before harvest time based on estimated output. If the campaign is unsuccessful, it allows the farmers begin to consider other options while there is still time before harvest.
Are any producers aggregating into cooperatives and associations so that buyers can consolidate their logistics and buy from groups rather than individuals? How far from urban centres are buyers prepared to travel to source production?
First a very simple analogy of how the process works.
Miriam has 100kg of tomatoes in Gboko to harvest in 4 days. We set up the campaign seeking for buyers. In 2 days, we got full subscription from 3 people, Paul – 30kg, Jessica -24kg, Femi – 56kg. After harvest, Miriam receives payment, we take the tomatoes, arrange transportation and ship to Paul, Jessica and Femi who live in Lagos (320km from Gboko).
So buyers’ roles are limited to placing orders. We consolidate the orders and the logistics. The challenge in Nigeria is that most (about 70%) of food is produced 300km – 1100km away from denser cities with higher per capita income. So it is not productive for one buyer to travel to source production, however one buyer can set out to source production for 100 other buyers, this reduces the unit cost of transportation.
A hack exists to this solution, typically when people in cities travel by road for business or visit home towns, farmers/producers come to the side of the highways in their villages and set up shops. Travelers buy a good bulk because it is way cheaper than in their city and they also serve as ‘souvenirs’ for neighbours from their trip. It is also very common for friends and families, who are aware of the trip to request a predominant produce common to the destination.
A number of producers aggregate into cooperatives and association. However one of the core of our idea is to find ‘takers’ for producers before harvest time, so that they don’t have to bother about storage, and considering rot kicks in when harvest begins. I think the cooperatives will be useful for access to producers and the knowledge they provide but there may also be disenchantments with the methods the cooperatives uses in prioritizing whose produce to sell and when. We could A/B test it and set required metrics to measure outcomes.
Buyers (in our case – busy professional in cities who do grocery shopping) wont find it efficient to travel 50km more than once a month to get groceries.