Agricultural commodities market information

Poverty and hunger remain a major concern in sub-Saharan Africa which has the highest incidence of rural poverty in the world. Agricultural development is regarded as one of the most important tools in accomplishing the goals of sustainable growth and substantial poverty reduction in developing countries. According to Schneider and Gugerty (2011), increases in agricultural productivity can reduce poverty through real income changes, employment generation, and rural non-farm multiplier effects. However, marketing of agricultural products remains a major challenge for farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Some marketing constraints they encounter when attempting to sell their products are usually related to lack of access to market information, information asymmetry between producers and sellers, and poorly organized input markets.

From an economic standpoint, the performance of markets depends primarily on the quality of information circulating among the various actors. However, economic agents often have incomplete and sometimes false information (Svensson and Yanagizawa 2009). Moreover, information asymmetries are frequent: traders on their part have better access to information while producers are often isolated, dispersed and are generally poorly informed. This difference in the access to information leads to inequitable price formation, which is often to the disadvantage of the producers (CTA 2008).

It is because of these and other reasons that organizations involved in the development of agricultural marketing advocate for the establishment of market information systems as a means of increasing the efficiency of marketing systems and promoting improved price formation. The need for such systems became most evident after liberalization of agricultural markets in the 1980s as part of the economic structural adjustment programmes (Tollens, 2006). The government no longer had monopoly over information as it was now in the hands of actors involved in the marketing of agricultural products.

MIS thus evolved in the 1980s as accompanying measures to economic liberalization when governments stopped intervening directly in major export and domestic food crop markets (Tollens, 2006). Today, in an attempt to link farmers to more profitable market opportunities and foster greater regional trade, many and sometimes competing models of agricultural MIS co-exist in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the co-existence of these different MIS models, little is known about their scope, context in which they occur, level of variability, determinants of successes and failures. Against this background, the study aims to review typologies of agricultural MIS in sub-Saharan Africa and document lessons learnt from past experiences. This review will enable better understanding of gaps in existing systems, and enable donors, governments and other private organizations to better understand important key points in the set-up and management of sustainable systems. Farmers, traders and other stakeholders will better understand the importance and roles of these systems.

Immediate communications was granted USD42,000 (2001-2004) to establish a market information service. This was through the FOODNET Programme, an  ASARECA(Association for strengthening Research and Development in East and Central Africa) under the competitive small grants programme funded by USAID. The overall goal was to improve agricultural information access by small scale farmers, leading to efficient farm operations. The project was achieved by

  • Enhancing collection and dissemination of market information
  • Promotion of interaction between input providers,consumers and farmers
  • Facilitation of enhanced channels of information exchange between the different groups

Market information was collected from different markets like Githunguri, Wangige, Karatina, Makadara, in Thika and limuru market and disseminated through local FM stations The radio channels used were Kameme FM and Coro FM. After getting traction, these radio programmes became part of regular programmes through sponsorship by private companies