Silent witness

I attended a burial,
not knowing the deceased,
nor the family.
It was not my place to start conversation,
or eye contact.

The tiny boy was four years old,
born against the odds,
living against the odds,
touching the lives of many.
Four short years.

I was a silent witness
to a life lived, now ceased.

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Getting into markets or overwhelming them?

My first encounter with a community group in this project was a focus group discussion with an agribusiness club near Zomba in Malawi, on 5 October 2013. The members present were very enthusiastic about their experience in collective marketing chili for a fixed price. Over the next few days we visited other groups: agribusiness as well as savings and loan groups. We heard a lot of complaints that many people had not been able to sell their current crop of chili at the agreed price, or to sell at all.

I did a quick search for information about the marketting arrangements and found this publicity document published by CRS: http://www.crsprogramquality.org/publications/2013/6/5/crs-is-linking-chili-farmers-to-market-in-malawi-to-improve.html

A rapid expansion of the chili growers connected to the one commercial buyer is described in that document. The number of producers doubled from 5,315 in 2011 to 10,000 in the season of our field work (2012-13). So this raises all kinds of questions, to some of which you may be able to respond. How many large exporters and processors of chili are there in Malawi? How do the facilitators, the Agibusiness Service Providers (ASP), keep tabs on the big picture of total supply and demand? If farmers expect the purchasers to buy all the chili they have produced, are they misunderstanding how the market operates?

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