Linking smallholder farmers to markets: The role of extension in market information distribution for poverty reduction in Fako, Cameroon

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Taku-Forchu, Namah
Major Professor
Francis Y. Owusu
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Community and Regional Planning

Community and regional planning is a professional field of study aimed at assessing the ever-changing socioeconomic and physical environments of our communities and planning for their future. Planners evaluate and seize opportunities to understand and solve problems. Most planners work at the local level, but they are concerned with issues that affect the world: the preservation and enhancement of the quality of life in a community, the protection of the environment, the promotion of equitable economic opportunity; and the management of growth and change of all kinds.

The Department of Community and Regional Planning was established in 1978 when it was split from the Department of Landscape Architecture and Community Planning.

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Access to markets and market information are essential in promoting agricultural sales and improving smallholder farmers’ revenue. The agricultural sector in Cameroon employs majority of the workforce and contributes greatly to agricultural households’ livelihoods. Many smallholder farmers are increasingly producing for commercial purpose, however majority of them lack access to markets and market information thereby hindering them from connecting their local markets to national markets. Extension can be useful in overcoming this information asymmetry, by providing smallholder farmers with relevant and reliable agricultural market information. This study explored the challenges faced by tomato value chain actors in Fako Division, Cameroon. Using “Making markets work better for the poor” (M4P) framework, we identified the main actors in the value chain from producers in Fako through to urban retailers in Douala. We employed mixed research method and used interview guides and focus group discussions to collect data from farmers, wholesalers, transporters, and extension workers. Based on our analysis, we identified inadequate source of market information, poor state of infrastructure, and low prices during peak season as the main challenges faced by actors in the value chain. We then examined the role of extension staff in mitigating these challenges and explore strategies for making the value chain efficient. We argued that enhancing market information could be a useful way to link farmers to markets and bypass wholesalers. In addition, with increased use of mobile phones, mobile phone technology has a potential to destabilize the value chain by making it possible for farmers to communicate directly with retailers in urban markets. We also make a case for developing programs on local radio, and in newspapers and bulletins where extension staff could provide up-to-date market information on prices of agricultural products the different markets.

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Wed May 01 00:00:00 UTC 2019