AgriTrade loan increases trader and farmers’ incomes
ST. MARY’S, CHITUNGWIZA, Zimbabwe - When the going got tough for her family at the peak of Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown in 2008, 34-year-old Shumirai Gasela decided to trade in maize to help her family make ends meet. Gasela experienced financial challenges in the first two years of trading, until she was introduced to the USAID-supported, AgriTrade credit facility. In July 2011, Gasela secured her first AgriTrade loan worth $1,500. After successfully repaying the first loan, she received a second loan for $2,700 in January 2012.
Through AgriTrade, Gasela and her employees increased their profits and the income of farmers they buy from.
The loans have enabled Gasela to stock up and establish her business as a viable one. She has realized a 30 percent growth since receiving her first loan.
The increase in capital has enabled her to sell maize directly to millers, without using intermediate large scale maize consolidators, who usually don’t pay cash on the spot. “I now sell directly to millers needing maize and this has made my business more profitable as prices are better when I deal direct,” Gasela said. “Because I have the stocks to back me up, I can sell for cash,” Gasela added.
AgriTrade loans also enabled Gasela to secure warehouses where, at any given time, can hold at least 30 tons of maize. “Gone are the days for scrounging for stock. I have enough to call the shots and determine my terms of trade,” she said.
Gasela buys maize from communal smallholder farmers in areas of surplus such as Chiweshe and Karoi – part of the red soils area of Zimbabwe where rainfall is higher than most parts of the country. Without the steady supply of maize from communal farmers, Gasela said she would not be in business. “These communal farmers have been the backbone of my business, and to keep them I have to offer a competitive price,” Gasela said.
Rangarirai Musonza, a 28-year-old father of three from Mapfumo Village in Chiweshe is one of the many satisfied communal farmers who sell to Gasela. “Mai (mother) Gasela offers a competitive price and she pays upon delivery; that is why I like selling my maize to her,” Musonza said.
Musonza once tried his luck at cross-border trading into neighboring Botswana. However, now he says it is more profitable for him to sell to Gasela, who offeres $180 per ton at his farm gate. From the proceeds he has been able to start a chicken rearing project, Musonza said.
AgriTrade is part of Zim-AIED, which is funded by USAID and implemented by Fintrac. IRD manages AgriTrade under a sub-contract to Fintrac.