An assessment of the need for and availability of agricultural market information among small-scale farmers in Chingola
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This study evaluates the availability and needs of agricultural market information by small-scale farmers in Ipafu area, in Chingola District. The area was purposively chosen as it contained the representative features typical of small-scale farmers in other rural areas and findings in this area represent to a greater extent the scenario as it is in many other rural areas. Data collected from 105 farmers through a survey formed the empirical basis for the study.The study findings show that the provision of agricultural market information in the area has not been up to standards. The information which is available is not adequate, accurate, clear and timely. This has greatly hampered the development of agriculture in the area as farmers are unable to access quality agricultural market information on which they can base their decisions such as what crop and variety to grow profitably in a given season. . Farmers' growth in agriculture is stunted as they can't find markets with fair prices from which they can get high profits to sustain themselves and advance in their agriculture. Factors that have contributed to this ineffective provision of agricultural market information "include; insufficient funding to marketing organizations, lack of sufficient human resources to manage information systems, lack of access for staff to proper facilities and transport to collect, analyze and disseminate agricultural market information; telecommunication systems are not developed and this impedes good linkages in rural and urban information centres.Based on the study findings, it is recommended that the process of collecting, analyzing and dissemination of agricultural market information system should be improved to ensure that information is available in standards as needed by farmers. It is also recommended that building and rehabilitation of the major roads of the country and feeder roads in rural areas can allow for easy flow of market information. Improved communication and quicker collection, analysis and dissemination of agricultural market information by relevant government institutions and other organizations should be promoted in order to contribute to rural poverty alleviation and food security.