Companies that produce alcoholic beverages can become consistent purchasers of agricultural products, bringing regular income to farmers. Past FRW stories have looked at how farmers have benefitted from supplying local beer and mead companies:
-“South Africa: Ancient brew has Eastern Cape buzzing with employment opportunities ” (FRW #10, February 2008)
-“Rwanda: 5,000 farmers contracted to grow maize for beer ” (FRW #12, February 2008)
Of course, alcoholic beverages are just one type of product that can be created by processing local agricultural products. Other products range from basic foodstuffs like cassava flour or ground maize to specialty products like spiced jams and beeswax candles. You may wish to produce a story about local farmers who supply a company in your area. Some questions to ask include:
-How did the company get started? Was it inspired by the abundance of a particular crop grown in the area? Was it started by locals (perhaps farmers) or someone else?
-What is the arrangement between farmers and the company? How are the prices for crops established? Does the company guarantee that it will purchase all of the crops the farmers grow?
-Have regular incomes improved the quality of life for local farmers who supply the company?
-What steps, such as growing subsistence crops, do farmers take to ensure their food security while at the same time growing crops for the company?