Response of small-scale farmers to maize marketing failures: Case study of Chisamba

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Chanda, Dominic
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Zambia is currently pursuing the agricultural market reforms necessitated by a deteriorating economic situation. This study examined how small-scale farmers in Chisamba area have responded to the problems of maize marketing failures.The studies that have been done on the problems small-scale farmers face have not highlighted as to whether farmers have formed farmers groups to strengthen their bargaining position in negotiating for better prices for maize or whether farmers have crop diversified to high value crops to overcome maize marketing problems. A survey was conducted in which 124 farmers were interviewed. The data were analyzed using SPSS which generated descriptive statistics.From the study it was found that small-scale farmers have by far and large responded favorably to the problems of maize marketing failures. Of the 124 farmers interviewed 108 (87%) of them belong to farmer groups. However, farmers are only using these farmer groups to buy cheap input and not to sale their produce. In addition to that 110 (89%) farmers are crop diversifying their crop base into high value crops (such as cotton, sunflower, paprika and soybeans) which have ready market from private sector.In view of these findings, the study recommended that small-scale farmers may be better off focusing their efforts to growing crops that are on demand rather than putting more efforts on increasing the production of unprofitable crops like maize. Since the marketing of maize is currently problematic, it is suggested that extension workers should encourage small-scale farmers to give first priority to crops like sunflower, cotton and soybeans. This is because these crops have a reliable marketing support system through private sector-driven contract farming. Further, the government and NGOs involved in agriculture should impart marketing skills to small-scale farmers. This will enable small-scale farmers find markets for their produce before they engage themselves in producing products that at the end of the day will not be sold.In addition, consolidation of agricultural reforms in Zambia should therefore focus on overcoming some of the problems facing small-scale farmers and encourage the formation of stronger farmer group which will help farmers in negotiating the prices and finding markets. Government should put a deliberate policy in place which will encourage farmers to be selling their produce through the farmer groups. This will reduce chances of farmers being exploited by the buyer.
Small scale farming , Maize marketing