Sales Agents - Key Players in the Value Chain
The common perception of the sales agent is as a monopolistic buyer who pays the lowest possible price for the produce of the poor and then reaps high margins from the sale of the produce to consumers or other commercial actors. This idea has been supported by fair trade organizations and NGOs that consequently program to circumvent the middleman to offer increased profits to poor producers.
While it is indeed often the case that middlemen are in a position to exploit poor producers, MEDA suggests that rather than eliminating the sales agent, there is value in working with them and fostering their key role within a value chain. Sales agents not only create valuable linkages to markets, but they can also be important agents of growth and empowerment through the provision of embedded services and increased information flows.