Comoros Islands: Farmers’ group creates their own market (Ahmed Bacar, for Farm Radio Weekly, in the Comoros Islands)

| July 2, 2012

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Mohamed Soilih is president of the National Federation of Women and Comoros Farmers, or FNAC-FA. Known to his friends as Momo, one of the first things he did as president was to create a marketplace. He says, “In August 2011, I committed myself to building a market where farmers can sell their products by weight.”

The market is located north of Moroni, the capital. Mr. Soilih hopes that the market will help local people by selling fresh, good quality produce at a reasonable cost. All kinds of fruits and vegetables are for sale, including banana, cassava, sweet potato, green beans, tomatoes, oranges and chilies.

FNAC-FA members asked for this market to be created, and President Momo workhed to make it happen. The Federation’s main challenge was solved when the government provided them with a building in a good location. Now the market is a great success, and the Federation is already looking for a bigger space. Mr. Soilih says, “Since the opening of this market, we have found that many farmers are regular customers, coming to buy or sell products.”

The Federation buys farmers’ produce at an attractive price and resells it to customers for a small profit. For example, it buys a kilogram of bananas at 200 Comorian francs, or 50 cents, and sells it for 250 francs, which is around 65 cents..

The market also saves consumers money. For example, the price of green beans is half what it would be in other local markets.

Most people who sell to the Federation are members. Ousseine Ahamada regularly sells to the Federation’s market, which has been of great benefit to him. He says, “Each quarter I can pocket around US $370. This money allows me to pay my for children’s education and cover my daily expenses.”

Another farmer, Rafiki Ali Said, has a different reason for selling to this market. He explains, “Rather than spend five hours at Volo Volo market, I sell in much less time at the FNAC-FA market. I have made a lot of money.” In one trip, Rafiki Ali Said can make up to US $250.

Customers are also satisfied. One customer, Celine Bernard, says: “Every day we can buy quality products and at prices that defy competition.”

However, while some farmers appreciate the way the market functions, others complain when they cannot sell their produce because of the quota system. Market leaders set a quota for certain products, and refuse to buy more.

Maoulida Ibrahim is a farmer and member of FNAC-FA. He says, “When there is overproduction, they do not buy our products. We are forced to sell them elsewhere and often lose money. This is unacceptable.”

Hakimdine Abdalla is also a member of the Federation. He agrees, saying, “I know the lawsof supply and demand, but this should not prevent the market leaders from buying our products. We are their main customers.”

Despite these growing pains, Mohamed Soilih is very proud of the success of the market. He wants to develop it into a centre which supplies all the major markets of the capital city.