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Tropentag, September 17 - 19, 2013 in Stuttgart-Hohenheim

"Agricultural development within the rural-urban continuum"

The Role of Markets in Food Availability and Market Integration among Smallholder Farmers: The Case of Western Kenya

Mary Ng'endo1, Shonil Bhagwat1, Patricia Daley1, Katja Kehlenbeck2, Gudrun B. Keding3

1University of Oxford, Oxford University Centre for the Environment, United Kingdom
2World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Tree Diversity, Domestication and Delivery, Kenya
3Bioversity International, Nutrition and Marketing of Diversity Programme, Kenya


Smallholder farmers produce food for both home consumption and for commercial purposes, but often they are also net buyers of food. Markets thus play a key role in ensuring year-round food availability and food security. This study assessed: (i) the link between food available in markets and what is grown and consumed at household level, and (ii) the factors influencing the level of farmers' involvement in market trading networks in two regions with good market access.
All present plant and animal species grown/reared for food were inventoried on 30 purposively selected smallholder farms in six villages of Mumias and Vihiga counties, Western Kenya. Purposive sampling of available food products was done on three and four markets near the surveyed farms in Mumias and Vihiga counties, respectively.
In the markets, food products of 59 plant and animal species were available, while 68 different plant and animal species were documented on the surveyed farms. Cereals and non-leafy vegetables were mainly sourced from markets, not own farms, during the surveyed post-harvest season. Various reasons shaped on-farm availability and consumption of these food groups at household level. While Irish potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) were readily available in markets, sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) and cassava (Manihot esculenta) were more popular in farms and for home consumption. While cooking bananas (Musa paradisiaca) were unavailable in all markets, they were readily available for 60% and consumed by 17% of households.
Regarding market trading systems, a minor share of the 59 food products were either grown by the interviewed market trader or sourced from neighbouring farmers, while most products were sourced from within the district and other districts as well as from neighbouring countries. The food groups 'fruits', 'pulses/nuts/seeds' and 'starchy roots/tubers' were mainly sourced from neighbouring countries e.g. Uganda.
The present study showed that smallholder farmers can be integrated better in the local market system to improve rural livelihoods. This could be achieved e.g. by identification of local, diversified products that are otherwise sourced from other districts or even countries and then linking farmers producing these items to the local markets.

Keywords: Food diversity, food security, market trading systems, markets, on-farm availability

Contact Address: Mary Ng'endo, University of Oxford, Oxford University Centre for the Environment, Linacre College St.cross Road, OX1 3JA Oxford, United Kingdom, e-mail: mariangendo@gmail.com

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