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Connecting farmers to high value markets: a case study of smallholder vegetable growers in Ntcheu District, Malawi
- Macharia, J., Dent, B., Gondwe, S., Kamba, G., Dzanja, J., Chilanga, T.
- Acta horticulturae 2018 no.1205 pp. 165-178
- attitudes and opinions, case studies, focus groups, growers, interviews, marketing strategies, markets, prices, supply chain, vegetables, Malawi, South Africa
- One of the critical challenges facing vegetable smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa is a lack of understanding about quality specifications, volumes and the service standards required to supply emerging lucrative urban markets. Similarly, urban retailers report that unreliable quality, volume and delivery from local suppliers has driven them towards importing vegetables from large-scale producers in countries such as South Africa. This paper presents the results from a case study on rapid value chain analysis conducted in Ntcheu District, Malawi, between November 2015 and February 2016 using a new seven-step analytical tool. The aim was to identify specific vegetable markets in Lilongwe and smallholders' suitability to supply those markets. By aligning findings on market characteristics and farmers' strengths and weaknesses, action plans were developed based on farmers' skills, attitudes and resources. Data on the structure and operations of selected vegetable value chains were collected through a review of secondary documents, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, chain mapping and individual farmer interviews. Subsequent analysis identified the requirements of high value markets for different types of vegetables and whether farmers had the capacity to satisfy those requirements. The resulting action plans set out collective production and marketing strategies to enable farmers to compete in the marketplace on the quality of their vegetables rather than on price alone. The seven step analytical process could be readily adapted to the analysis of other commodity value chains.