Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Farmers and markets

Globalisation of the agricultural economy has led to rapid changes in the way that agricultural products are produced, transported and sold. As commodity prices decline and value chains become more complex, smallholder farmers are encouraged to produce high value crops and engage in value-adding activities, such as agro-processing, to increase their incomes. But whilst new market opportunities offer a chance for increased prosperity, many still face a multitude of barriers in effectively accessing markets, even at local level.

Farmer organisation is a critical factor in improving farmers' access to markets. The January Edition of the New Agriculturist features initiatives being promoted to enhance market access at local, regional and global level. From pigs and potatoes in Vietnam and Inner Mongolia, to coffee, rice, onions and high-value vegetables in Africa and cocoa in the rainforests of Ecuador, we highlight how farmers are coming together to improve their access to established markets and take advantage of emerging market opportunities.

Ethiopia's high-tech commodity exchangeLaunched in April 2008, the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) has revolutionised coffee sales. Initially focussed on immediate sale and delivery of beans, the Exchange is now moving towards trade in coffee futures and speciality coffees.
Commercial villages: improving market accessWith help from Farm Concern International, onion farmers in Nyeri, Kenya, have grouped together to form 'commercial villages'. By improving their marketing and farming practices, these farmer groups have successfully increased their yields and incomes.
Trading up in the rice sector in NigeriaWith the backing of a local bank and the support of a marketing development project, women rice parboilers in Kano State have become traders of rice and, with the introduction of new technology, improved the quality of the rice they sell.

Zambia: meeting a tall orderIn a drought-prone province of southern Zambia, community groups have invested in drip irrigation to grow high value vegetables, year-round, and are now supplying some of the country's most luxurious hotels.

Related: FARA is holding between 01/02 and 16/03 an online discussion on ‘Promoting Access to Regional and International Markets for Agricultural Commodities in Eastern and Southern Africa. The electronic group discussion provides an open space to stimulate discussion and elicit ideas on crucial agricultural trade policy issues in Eastern and Southern Africa. It involves policymakers, academics, researchers, representatives of SROs and RECs, farmers’ organizations, representatives from business community, NGOs and other civil society groups. The outcomes of the electronic group discussion will be collated. Thereafter, a detailed summary paper of the discussion will be presented during a face to face Eastern and Southern Africa regional policy dialogue workshop – 17th – 18th, March, 2010 in Nairobi, Kenya

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