Improving access to market information: a driver of change in marketing strategies for small producers?

Type Conference Paper - 149th EAAE Seminar ‘Structural change in agrifood chains: new relations between farm sector, food industry and retail sector’ Rennes, France, October 27-28, 2016
Title Improving access to market information: a driver of change in marketing strategies for small producers?
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL et al _Improving access to market information_EAAE 16​09 2016.pdf
The circulation of information has been pointed out by the economic literature as a main
factor of market performance. In developing countries, information asymmetries are
frequently mentioned as limiting the effectiveness of agricultural markets. Rice market in
Madagascar, characterized by a great instability and a poor spatial integration, is an
illustration of such situation. Market Information Systems (MIS) aim at improving market
performance, through the dissemination of information to producers and other market players.
However, their effectiveness often remains limited, hampered by the lack of consideration of
the market players’ behavior and constraints, especially those of smallholder farmers.
Livelihoods, commercialization practices and access to market information are analyzed on a
sample of 582 farm households in two main rice production areas in Madagascar. Different
ways to disseminate market information and knowledge are tested on a subsample of farmers
and extension staff: SMS, radio programs, and educational modules. A light survey on the
recipient provides early feed-backs on their appraisal of each communication media.
To have a better access to market information is perceived as necessary by the majority of
producers. Expectations in term of information are differentiated according to producers’
types and their degree of remoteness. The more the actors are involved in market (more
marketable surplus or paddy collection), the more they demand for precise and personalized
communication means (ie. mobile phone) and the more they are willing to pay the
information. Yet, the capacities of the majority of producers hamper the adoption of systems
based only on mobile phone. Furthermore a large share of farmer households still doesn’t
have a mobile phone. Among those that do, there is rapid turn-over of phone numbers, which
cannot allow maintaining sustainably recipients. To alleviate the risk of increasing
inequalities while developing MIS entirely based on mobile phones, it seems critical to
include them within extension or other farmer support programs, and to diversify
communication means (including radio, bulletin board) along with marketing capacity

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