Traders riding on bodaboda with weighing scales hanging around their necks is a common sight around villages, especially during the harvest season. The traders move around looking for cash crops like coffee, maize, beans and groundnuts.
The fact is that most of these scales are tampered with to favour the traders. So, a 100kg bag of maize ends up weighing 90kg. How can farmers avoid being cheated? Farmers need to invest in a set of weighing scales to help them ascertain the exact weight of their produce.
If your weighing scale reads 100kg, and the trader’s reads 90kg then know there is something wrong. If you cannot afford a weighing scale, you can pool resources with fellow farmers in the same area and buy one. Alternatively, a farmer can buy a weighing scale that neighbours can use at a fee.
It is not only crops like coffee and maize that have to be weighed. Livestock too can be weighed. Animal traders have mastered the art of convincing farmers that their animals are inferior and so they should accept a low price for them. An animal sold on the hoof (live) is often undervalued. Instead of arguing with a trader over the value of an animal like a pig, just agree on the price per kilogram of meat, then slaughter the animal.
Do not allow them to carry away anything without weighing. When cattle buyers come, they always estimate the weight of the cows by just looking at them.
“This is about 100kg. And if you deduct the head and skin, it will be much smaller,” a trader will say before negotiating the price. However, the estimated weight is usually many times lower than the actual weight. It is estimated that cattle keepers lose between 10kg to 15kg on every cow they sell for slaughter.
This means that if a farmer sells 10 head of cattle, they lose 100kg. Since a kilo of meat costs about sh4,000, a farmer will lose about sh400,000.
However, scale works like any other scale. Once an animal stands on the board, its weight is recorded. Animal weighing scales are sold at about sh2m each in agri-machinery stores around the country.