Columnists Features

The importance of value addition

TEMBO

FELIX TEMBO
When I told my cousin last week to add value to his recently harvested maize, he screamed at me. He told me that I should then buy him a hammer mill for him to add value. I looked at him with some level of disappointment because his thinking was that I was just trying to ‘pull his toe’. I then realised that he understood value addition from a different perspective. A lot of us do confuse value addition and processing. What we don’t want to understand is that processing is part of value addition. The oxford Dictionary defines value as ‘how much something is worth in money or other goods for which it can be exchanged’.
Let me give an example that we see every day. Take an example of a beautiful girl who has just woken from sleep; she has not yet bathed and cleaned herself up. Give that girl a good one hour in the bathroom applying all the make-up and dressing up nicely. Would you think she will be as valuable (in terms of appearance) as she was before going in the bathroom? I don’t think so, and you might ask what processing activities has she done to her body? Nothing! What she has just done is to take a warm shower, applied the lotion and the make-up to add value to her looks. This is the same context we talk about when we ask our colleagues to add value. Of course, I am not insinuating that processing is not value addition but it is just one method of value addition. The lady can easily go for breast enlarging and facial changing like one great musician did in America.
What l was trying to tell my cousin was that he needed for instance to sort out his groundnuts before selling. What he had done was to mix both the normal nuts and the shriveled ones in the same bag and when l asked him why he had done that, his response was that the harvest was too poor and he needed the small nuts to add up to the required quantities. This is one mistake farmers make and it affects their pricing. I would rather sell a 20kg tin of good quality well sorted nuts than sell a 50kg bag of nuts mixed with shriveled, rotten and good nuts. One risk selling that bag which might contain about 30kg of very good quality nuts at a lower price than the 20kg tin of sorted nuts. The point I am trying to drive home is that whenever we are selling our agricultural produce lets learn to add value. This can be in form of processing (transforming the physical shape), sorting and grading. Last week I shared with you how we used to eat nsima made from mealie meal ground from maize that had weevils in it. Suppose our grandmother could have been applying Actelic Gold dust to her maize, it would have remained as pure as it was harvested. Treating the maize grain with the dust is value addition because you are preventing your maize from going bad. When we hear the government officials asking us to add value to our produce they don’t necessarily mean we should always process our produce. Washing our tomatoes before displaying them for sell is another form of value addition. For those that can process, l urge you to do that as you tend to get more value than primary value addition. Last week I stopped over at Katete District Women Development Association (KDWDA) to buy cooking oil which they are processing from groundnuts and sunflower. I can assure you the reader that the quality is not any different from that you buy from some of these chain stores. I employ all the farmers associations and cooperatives to emulate what the women in Katete are doing. They have created some jobs and they definitely are improving the nutrition of the people in the community. I was just unhappy that during my time of visitation, they were not processing because there was no power. I think our power generation companies should think of utilising the abundant sunlight; we don’t want the industrialisation that has started in rural areas to stall. Please add value to your produce.
The author is an Agribusiness Practitioner.  Email ftembo2001@gmail.com

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