When a farmer is told to grow coffee, maize, beans or any other crop to improve his/her household income, is he/she really aware of the demands and conditions of the consumers of these commodities? Is he/she conscious of safety and quality standards required by targeted consumers?
To sell crops at gainful prices, we need to ensure that they are attractive. The farmers must be constantly aware of their products’ market demands. They must have an idea of the journey that commodities make from the farm to consumers.
Their task should not just be high production. It involves quality issues such as cleanliness, crop breed, dryness, hygiene, appearance and packaging, storage, grading, and sorting, among many others.
Just as political leaders emphasise maximising crop production, equal emphasis ought to be put on quality standards as a measure to increase demand for the commodities and to ease marketing. When the farmers keep the standards of their products high, they are in a better position to get better prices.
If beans are dried on bare ground, they get mixed with objects as stones, pieces of wood, metallic pieces, straws, weeds and animal droppings. Poor storage of grain exposes it to pests and moisture, which damage it. The grain becomes moist; it may germinate and become discoloured. Consumers will not buy such beans if they have alternative sources. The commodities we produce for export are the symbols of our national identity abroad.
Our farmed products should promote our international image.
If a farmer does not take sufficient storage precautions, pests may attack the grain. Nobody will eagerly buy grain infested with insects and bearing weevil bored holes. Customers avoid grain with clear signs of insect presence or grain mixed with foreign objects. The grain should be well sorted and should have a normal and clean appearance. It should not carry any abnormal smell. Pesticides used to protect grain must be applied with extreme care as they contain poisonous chemicals.