Characteristics of intra-rural sorghum marketing by small holder farmers [ A case study of Kazungula District]
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This report presents the results of a characterization study of intra-rural sorghum markets in Kazungula district of the southern province of Zambia. The impetus of the study came from the recognition that important changes have taken place in the staple markets since liberalization began in 1991 and as a result, a restructuring and organization of the grain markets. Whereas success has been achieved in commercializing maize grain marketing, limited trade occurs in the sorghum markets which have since remained undeveloped despite the numerous opportunities in the free and competitive marketing systems.The overall objective of the study was to characterize the intra-rural sorghum markets. More specifically the characterization focused on the identification of the major participants in sorghum marketing, the nature of trade in the sorghum markets, the mechanisms involved in sorghum marketing, the constraints and the opportunities within the small holder marketing systems whose alleviation or exploitation could induce growth of the rural markets. To collect the necessary data, a survey was conducted on a random sample of 50 respondents from Kazungula district. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the characteristics of the sorghum markets, its traders and the constraints faced in the rural marketing systems.Results from the study showed small holder farmers are a heterogeneous group with respect to sorghum grain marketing. The small holder farmers can be assigned to four market participation categories including exclusive sellers, exclusive buyers, non market participants and both the buyers and sellers of the output. Education, age, gender, access to credit and assets owned by the principle trader are important factors that influence the nature of participation in sorghum marketing by the small holder farmers.Further results from the study revealed that the sorghum markets are characterized as having low trade volumes averaging 250 kg for both sales and purchases. This is because the small holder farmers consume most of what is produced and very little output enters the market for trade. The trade channels that exist in these markets are restricted to the local grain processors i.e. the local beer brewers and the grain millers. The sorghum traders also have very small marketing margins because of the minimal value addition to the grain which is restricted to threshing and more so the produce is generally purchased at the farm gate and hence incurring minimal transportation expense.The major constraint faced by the smallholder farmers in intra rural marketing is the limited markets that are available. The crop traders have limited access to the urban markets and much more so to the urban sorghum based food and beer industries. This has, to a larger extent contributed to the limited growth of the sorghum markets.To address some of the problems that prevail in the sorghum markets it is recommended that the small holder farmers form farmers trading organizations in order to facilitate marketing with the urban industries and utilisers of the sorghum grain. Also efforts may be directed towards contract farming between the sorghum growers and the urban feed and beer industries for guaranteed markets for the sorghum farmers and consequentially growth of the sorghum markets.