The traditional food chain has turned us, farmers, into whiners (myself included): we cry when we suffer a natural disaster, we cry and we almost crawl asking for 5 cents more per kilogram when an intermediary comes to buy the produce. We cry when three months later this intermediary still does not pay us and we cry when he pays less than was agreed on. We also cry for subsidies when nobody wants our product or when there is a surplus of supply.
There is no supply chain more opaque, more inefficient and more dubious than the food supply chain.
Why? Because those who sell are often not those who produce. Because those who produce do so out of inertia, blindly, without knowing whether anyone wants what they are producing.
When you work and live in an industry that changes at a fast pace you can: cry, protest, think and act.
We cried with helplessness when after two days of fighting the cold our orange harvest froze, when on the third day when there was no more straw to burn to warm the trees. We even protested by threatening a cheeky middleman who sent us a bad promissory note when my brother and I had not been paid for three months.
But dear friends, this is changing! We human beings are capable of the worst but also of the best. When some inefficiency reaches the ears of consumers today, it runs like water from a troubled river and it can change the industry from one day to another.
We farmers have an alternative to crying.
Consumers are telling us to sell them our crops directly, they are announcing that they want to know how and where we have grown their food, even what the weather has been like. They are telling us that they accept a fruit that looks imperfect as long as it has been grown without synthetic pesticides. They are asking us not to apply wax or preservative treatments to the fruit’s skin. They encourage us not to use plastic in the packaging and finally, they ask us to come and meet us one day and tell them about our day-to-day life on the farm.