Factors influencing Cowpea producers' choice of marketing channels in Zambia

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Mzycece, Agness
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The University of Zambia
Cowpeas are an important food legume throughout central and southern Africa and Zambia in particular. They have the potential to contribute to poverty reduction, food security, income generation and even to the achievement of Millermium Development Goals (MDGs). The development of the cowpea industry can also lead to the achievement of the Zambian Agricultural policy vision of promoting and facilitating the development of an efficient, competitive and sustainable agricultural sector which assures food security and increased incomes. However, to tap into the potential in the cowpea industry, the markets have to be set right. In setting the markets right, important aspects of marketing such as producer marketing choices should be considered. This is because increased reliance on markets as the foundation for development strategies has put a premium on understanding household market participation. Marketing channel decisions are among the most critical decisions facing an organization and the chosen channels intimately affect all other marketing decisions (Berry .T, 2010). In an effort to identify interventions that could stimulate farmer participation in marketing, it is important to understand the factors that influence the farmers' choices of marketing channels. Previous studies have analyzed market participation decisions as being made sequentially with the decision of what volumes to buy or sell (Goetz, 1992; Key et. al., 2000; Holloway et. al., 2001; Bellemare and Barrett, 2006; and others). However, it is unclear whether market participation decisions are related to choice of marketing channel decisions, whether as being made simultaneously or sequentially. Secondary data from the third supplemental survey to the 1999/2000 post harvest survey, collected from CSO was used. The study employed the probit model to identify the factors that influence cowpea producers' market participation decisions as well as their choice of marketing channels in Zambia. The results showed that cowpea producers sold to a particular channel as long as it presented a ready market to the seller. Markets were the only significant factor with p-values of 0.025 and 0.000. The factors that influence the producers' market participation decisions included price CP-value = 0.019), inventory (P-value = 0.024), transport (P-value = 0.043), level of mechanization CP-value = 0.004) and marital status (P-value = 0.000). The market participation decision and choice of marketing channel are therefore influenced by different factors such that policies to stimulate market participation for cowpea producers are not likely to affect the producers' choice of marketing channel. The results also clarified that cowpea is mainly grown by the resource poor farmers and that its market is largely informal. This study therefore recommends the setting up of appropriate policies and infrastructure to encourage more market participants thus developing the cowpea value chain.
Cowpea-Zambia , Cowpea industry-Zambia