Business

Researchers bemoan lack of markets for small farmers

KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
THE Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) says smallholder farmers’ access to markets and agricultural support services remains a major concern for policy-makers.
According to a presentation by IAPRI at the launch of its 1st annual regional agricultural outlook symposium in Lusaka recently, there is need to increase investment in infrastructure development to develop the agriculture sector.
The IAPRI said developing markets and ensuring sustained agricultural support for small-scale farmers will require concerted efforts.
“Strategic investment in road, railways and port infrastructure research and development of crop varieties, agricultural extension systems to raise smallholders’ productivity to enable them produce a surplus in the first place.
“The majority of smallholder farmers selling maize to the private traders did so right on their farms or in their villages in the remote and isolated areas due to poor road network and lack of market access,” IAPRI said.
The institute said the impression that state operations in remote rural areas are typically critical to provide smallholder farmers with viable access to strategic grain markets is seriously questioned.
IAPRI said farmers cover long distances to find buyers for their farm produce and usually resort to selling their harvest to private buyers.
“Private traders and input suppliers are not able to service rural farmers, especially those in the remote areas. Farmers face long distances to find buyers for their produce.
“The rationale used by most governments in Africa is to directly invest in marketing boards to provide secure markets for smallholder farmers,” the research institute said.

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