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Abstract

The proportion of smallholder households selling horticultural produce is very low suggesting that new demand points could enjoy substantial supply response if they link effectively to the smallholder sector. The small-scale traditional marketing system continues to dominate fresh produce flows in the country. Prices for consumers in this system are much lower, and quality is comparable and sometimes superior to supermarkets. Yet these markets suffer from serious structural problems due to a lack of public investment and little collaboration between public officials and traders in market management. The Urban Markets Development Program represents a major and impressive effort to improve wholesale and retail markets in the country, but has run into problems as legislative reform has stalled. In addition, UMDP was not designed to address key issues of improved linkages between rural farmers and urban markets. These need to be addressed with improved market information and marketing extension. Zambia’s horticultural sector operates in a regional market, exporting and importing every year. Understanding and quantifying this trade will be the first step in ensuring that policies and programs are conducive to continued high rates of growth. Major new supermarket outlets are in the market to stay, and their effects on smallholder farmers and the traditional marketing system need to be better understood. Where appropriate, programs to facilitate direct marketing by smallholders to these chains should be supported, but should not distract from an overall focus on improving urban wholesale and retail markets and linking these more effectively to farmers.

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