By Mwazvita Zimunya
Let us talk to the first-time farmer once again today. You are keen on getting your hands dirty, you have bought yourself the khaki shirt and shorts to match with a sun hat and farmer shoes. A good appearance also goes a long way to promote your product.
Here are some important questions that every grower-marketer must find out about the market and the specific requirements of the targeted consumer:
· Who the likely consumers of your products are,
· Where do they live and what their specific needs and wants are.
· How many people live within your marketing area?
· Are consumers currently buying a particular fruit or vegetable?
· How much of the product(s) do your potential customers currently use?
Is this use seasonal?
· What prices are consumers paying for high-quality products?
· Are consumers adequately served at present?
If consumers in the area/neighbourhood (omakhelwane) are being adequately served, here are some additional questions:
· Can you do the job better and draw part of the market away from competitors?
· Can the quantity that consumers purchase be increased by providing better quality than what is currently available?
· Will your anticipated production comes at a time when little else is offered for sale?
· What level of quality must you produce to meet the need unfulfilled demands of consumers?
· How must you prepare and package the produce? What size container is most popular? What marketing costs will be incurred?
· Do you have clear, visible signage which is well located?
Factors to consider when grading your crop
• Quality (Firmness, Visual Appearance, Taste)
• Organic or inorganic
• Maximum Level Residue (MRLs)– acceptable level of chemicals