Farmers elated as ZMX introduces weekly maize trading

Edgar Vhera Agriculture Specialist Writer

THE Zimbabwe Mercantile Exchange’s (ZMX) recent introduction of weekly maize trading on its platform has thrilled consumers who believe it has revolutionised the agricultural commodity market, as they can now buy small quantities of commodities for home consumption.

Early this year the ZMX introduced the trading of smaller quantities of commodities from as low as 50 kilogrammes (kg) bags on its weekly Wednesday auction trading.

A consumer from Mufakose in Harare, Mr Nicho Chatsaka who recently participated in the weekly trade last week praised ZMX for making it possible for him to purchase 12 bags of maize weighing 600kg.

“I bought 12 bags of maize at US$21 each, a price cheaper than the price we are paying on the local markets where a 20-litre bucket is being sold at prices as high as US$10 per bucket,” he said.

A 50kg bag of maize contains three 20 litre-buckets, meaning to say from the local market a consumer parts with US$30 per bag. The ZMX price allows them to save US$9 saving.

Mr Chatsaka said: “It’s easy to buy the maize, all that one needs to do is register on the ZMX application, place a buy order and when it matches the offer, ZMX personnel will phone you to inform that your order was successful. I then went and deposited the US$21 per bag in the provided account details and organised transport to fetch the maize from Aspindale depot.”

In an X (formerly twitter) post titled: “You spoke and we listened,” the ZMX informed consumers that now they could buy maize for household consumption every Wednesday upon following the four simple steps downloaded from the ZMX mobile app, place the buy order and price, when the order matches, a notice will be received and payment requested. Upon making the payment, the buyer gets a collection letter from ZMX for collection within two working days from Aspindale warehouse.

“This is a ground breaking initiative that allows buyers to purchase commodities from as little as 50 kilogrammes for household consumption. This innovative step has not only been well-received but has also witnessed an exponential increase in the number of users of the platform,” said ZMX general manager, Mr Garikayi Munema.

Purchasing the commodities in smaller quantities has significantly enhanced food and nutrition security at household level. Previously, purchasing commodities in bulk quantities was often challenging for households, as it required substantial capital and storage facilities. However, with the new initiative, consumers can now conveniently buy smaller quantities that align with their immediate needs and budgets. This increased accessibility is empowering households to have greater control over their consumption patterns and allowing them to participate in the agricultural commodity market on their terms.

The ZMX trading platform allows consumers to lower their food budgets while reduces storage costs for farmers. It also creates an additional market avenue for farmers by enabling them to sell their produce directly to individual consumers.

Mr Munema said consumers no longer needed to visit physical markets or negotiate with multiple vendors to secure their household commodity requirements. Instead, they can now conveniently browse through the ZMX platform, select the desired quantity, purchase and collect from the warehouse.

“This direct-to-consumer approach is eliminating intermediaries (middlemen) and it is allowing farmers to receive fair prices for their agricultural commodities. The retail trading is also incentivising small-scale farmers to increase production, knowing that there is a readily accessible market for their products at ZMX. Ultimately, this initiative is promoting agriculture production and productivity, stimulating economic growth, and strengthening the agricultural value chain,” added Mr Munema.

Meanwhile, Livestock Meat and Advisory Council (LMAC) executive administrator Dr Reneth Mano said selling maize by the bag at an auction is not cost efficient for households relative to handling cost by auctioneer.

“Ordinarily, we should promote local grain traders to participate on ZMX by buying maize in prescribed small bulk (minimum of one tonne) from the spot market auction. These will then break bulk at their grain retail marketing premises (hammer-milling shop, urban markets, retail shops and so on) to satisfy the demand for maize by the urban and rural poor,” he said.

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