The main aim of any farmer is to make profit upon selling the harvested products. The farmer has to make sure that his farm products are attractive and of good quality since he is in competition with other farmers producing similar commodities.
Some of the factors governing agricultural marketing include transport. How are the products packaged and prepared for transportation to the selling destination? How long are they expected to stay on the shelves? If they are perishables such as fruits, vegetables, milk, meat or fish the farmer must plan how quickly to dispose of them before they are damaged unless he has good storage and transport facilities. Failure to find a market for such products in time could force the farmers to sell at a lower price and failure to realise a good profit.
The principle of demand and supply often determines the profits for the farmer. Usually when supply for commodities such as tomatoes is low there is scarcity for the commodities and therefore the prices may go up since the same number of consumers continues to demand for the tomatoes that are in short supply. On the other hand massive production of some commodities may increase buyers due to the low prices and abundant availability of the product.
Some farmers get minimum profits because the commodities they grow can only be bought by a single buyer. The sole buyer can force them to accept unfair prices since they have no alternative markets for their products. This is more common where large corporations are the sole buyers of such commodities as tea, sugarcane, coffee, palm oil, cotton, sisal and coffee, among others. Sometimes the corporations buy products as raw materials at extremely low prices which forces farmers to lose interest in producing the particular crop.
The discouragingly low coffee prices in the nineties led to reduced production of the crop because more farmers had turned to growing other crops.
Relatively fairer prices currently offered for the cash crop could be the incentive behind the rise in national coffee production of from 3 million 60Kg bags in 1998 to 5.2 million 60Kg bags last year (2020).
Mr Michael Ssali is a veteran journalist,