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

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 building.

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149th EAAE Seminar ‘Structural change in agri-food chains: new relations between farm sector, food industry and retail sector’, Rennes, France, October 27-28, 2016

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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