Choppies, the giant local retailer, has come up with a scheme designed to help farmers to improve their produce that they end up buying from the same farmers to resell to customers.
The spokesperson of the group, Ben Steglin, told Sunday Standard the scheme was started after realisation that some farmers, though dedicated to producing vegetable and fruits, lacked both capital and expertise to produce products that are suitable for the market.
“Our main concern has been the quality of products produced by some farmers and to help them improve their products we came up with this scheme,” he said.
He said farmers are helped with inputs, such as fertilizers and chemicals for their fields in order to improve their products and to prevent pests from destroying them.
On accusation, they buy most of their products from selected farmers whilst turning away other farmers with the same products.
Steglin said that this could be because those farmers were producing better products than those being turned away.
“We are in retailing business, we buy products in order to sell them. So we are at times forced to be selective on what we buy bearing in mind that we will be selling them later on. It will obviously not make business sense to buy something that we will not be able sell later,” he added.
Some locals involved with horticulture and farming have been complaining that Choppies chain supermarkets have started running horticultural gardens in and around Gaborone, which they said was killing their business as they are targeting the supermarkets, including Choppies, amongst other businesses.
This accusation was made by a farmer in the Kgatleng District who asked for anonymity as “Choppies” is amongst his customers in the business. According to the farmer, at times they spend the whole week not being able to supply Choppies as the chain supermarket will be getting their products from their farms.
“Choppies has always been proud of supporting the local production of goods in the country, but this is a direct opposite of that as they are now competing with small farmers like us and killing the initiative of farming that is being preached in the country at the moment,” he lamented.
Besides that, the farmer says that the chain supermarket at times buys from few selected farmers in the region whilst they are turned away with their produce.
“There is no explanation for this as well and we feel it is just discrimination of some kind by the chain supermarket. Our prayer is that they do what they have promised to do in the past and support us by buying our produce and concentrating on what they know best,” he said.