THE BUYING ORGANIZATIONS AND METHODS OF THE MERCHANTS AND OF OTHER INTERMEDIARIES IN THE EXPORT TRADE
Before the war the merchants acted as principals in the purchase and shipment of export produce. The firms bought produce at their buying stations, which were generally situated up-country in, or close to, the areas of production.
The actual buying for the firms was undertaken by their clerks or by various categories of middlemen who depended, in differing degrees, upon the firms' funds, premises, labour, equipment and so on. The clerks bought direct from producers, from middlemen who had collected small parcels from producers, or from other smaller intermediaries. Many of the more substantial middlemen had their own organization of employees and sub-middlemen, often running parallel with those of the merchant firms. Thus a middleman selling to an intermediary acting for a particular trading firm often competed with other intermediaries also buying for that firm, and/or with that firm's salaried employees engaged in produce buying.1
The middlemen were paid commission by the merchant firms; moreover, they kept any differences between the prices they paid for produce and those they received from the firms. Some of the smaller middlemen received agreed payments (as salaries), as well as commission on purchases. Clerks also sometimes received small commission payments, as well as their salaries.1____________________