18 March 2021. Markets are the main ‘transmission mechanisms’ between growth in the wider economy and the lives of the poor. Most smallholder farmers (SHF) sell their produce in informal markets that generate limited value. Evidence from research confirms that despite demanding requirements, participation in formal markets increases incomes much more than participation in informal markets. For instance, horticulture farmers producing fruits and vegetables lose a good proportion of their produce due to unpredictable demand in the informal market against poor or lack of cold storage facilities in their local open markets. Advocating for SFH (especially women and youth) to access markets as food producers is critical for fostering pro-poor and inclusive economic growth, thus the need for a structured campaign.
Against this backdrop, the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) has partnered with Oxfam Southern Africa (Oxfam SAF) in an effort to transform market systems in the Southern African region. Over the past 2-3 years, FANRPAN and Oxfam SAF have conducted a series of research studies focusing on four countries, namely Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. These studies aimed at unpacking factors that affect the participation of SHFs, in agricultural markets. Findings show that women farmers play significant roles in production and post-harvest processing, but benefit least from farming enterprises because they are underrepresented in market systems. There is need to create an enabling environment to transform agriculture markets for the smallholder farming households.
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