The roles and forms of brokers in sawn timber value chain – a student’s field report

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Interviewing a broker at broker’s wood-cluster local sawn timber market in Ifwagi village

I am John William Kallabaka from Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro-Tanzania. I did a research on the roles and forms of brokers in the smallholder farming in sawn timber value chain in Mufindi district, Iringa-Region, Tanzania. This research was done under WoodCluster project sponsored by German government under DAAD as a part of fulfillment for completion of my Masters of Science degree in Environmental and Natural Resources Economics at Sokoine University of Agriculture.

In my MSc thesis, I wanted to assess the roles and forms of brokers in the smallholder farming in sawn timber value chain in Mufindi district, identifying all actors within the smallholder farming in sawn timber value chain, their activities, value addition activities, production flow as well as transaction costs and profitability of the actors at each node along the value chain. During the preparation of my research concept note, I came to realize that my research could be integrated with the WoodCluster project in which it was interested in utilizing the research results for planning interventions pertaining smallholder farming in sawn timber value chain in Tanzania. The project study site was selected as Mufindi district, but myself I selected the study villages based on time plan and site selection criteria formulated due to project objectives.

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Interviewing a sawn timber businessman at Igowole village

With support from my supervisor and my fellow MSc and PhD students as the members of WoodCluster team in Tanzania, we travelled to Mufindi district in the end of December 2017 to do reconnaissance survey for study village’s selection. After introduction processes in the district authorities as well as villages for the project, we started village visits where we conducted Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) practices, Key Informants Interviews (KIIs), Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) in which the prior data which were prerequisite for my study sites selection were collected, hence the study site were selected based on the reconnaissance survey informations and the target population were stratified into five stratum including tree growers, saw millers, timber businessmen, furniture makers and brokers in which respondents were randomly selected. Having selected the study villages and respondents for the study, I also managed to get a field assistant. Thereafter,  I started my household surveys and  finalize data collection process within the planned time although there were some challenges such as rain and some interviewers were willing to be interviewed in the afternoon time after they have come back from their farms.

Data collection activities were conducted successfully with almost 99% of respondents who were hospitable and willing to provide their information for the research, although some of respondents reported that they have been visited by researchers several times carrying out data collection, and said that the researches are for their own benefits as they did not get any feedback to their communities and do not see any results coming from the research. The respondents were secured of the confidence of the information provided and I told them that the data collected were for study purposes and other interventions pertaining smallholders farming activities in sawn timber value chain.

After data collection at the field I went back to Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro-Tanzania where I did the data analysis and research report writing with the assistance of my supervisor and fellow MSc students. The most important experiences I got from the field is the great chance to talk with local sawn timber value chain stakeholders including tree growers, saw millers, timber businessmen, furniture makers as well as brokers whose gave me great opportunity that I can contribute to potential solutions pertaining smallholder plantation farming in sawn timber value chain in real-world problems through my dissertation.

I would like to give my genuine thanks to my supervisor Dr. Felister M. Mombo and Dr. Leopold Lusambo for their encouragement, helps as well as advices during my concept note preparation, study sites selection, field work and research report writing and WoodCluster project for research activities funding. Also my special thanks go to Dr. Maxi Domke and Dr. Eckhard Auch of Department of Forest Sciences at the Institute of International Forestry and Forest Product at Technische Universität Dresden of Germany for their tireless advices, encouragement and support during my research concept note preparation, field works, and research report writings. May Almighty God bless you all. Furthermore, my grateful thanks go to all district officers, Ward and Village Executive Officers who in one way or another make this research possible. Finally thanks to my family, my fellow MSc student Mr. Pierre Protas Ntiyamagwa, my fellow PhD student Mr. Beatus John Temu and all my colleagues and friends at Sokoine University of Agriculture, College of Forestry, Wildlife and Tourism, Department of Forest and Environmental Economics for their moral supports and encouragement which make this research successful.

 

By John William Kallabaka

 

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