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Small farmers' access to high-value markets: what can we learn from the Malawi pigeopea value chain?

By Donald Makoka


Access to high-value markets remains one of the major challenges facing smallholder farmers in Africa. The paper applies a value chain analysis to the pigeonpea sub-sector in Malawi to determine ways of improving the access of small farmers to the global pigeonpea markets. The value chain analysis, complemented by primary data from a sample of 200 farmers, investigates the nature of the pigeonpea value chain by highlighting the main actors and the sources of inefficiency along the chain. The study shows that pigeonpea production is dominated by smallholder farmers with limited access to market information and who are also faced with lack of access to improved varieties. For the Malawian exporters, their competitiveness is being undermined by high freight costs and low pigeonpea grain quality. Policies to improve market institutional innovations through the use of the leading farmer organization, NASFAM, have the potential of improving the competitiveness of the producers.

Topics: N57 - Africa; Oceania, D13 - Household Production and Intrahousehold Allocation, B21 - Microeconomics
Year: 2009
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