Perceived benefits of participatory market chain approach in marketing orange fleshed sweet potatoes in Soroti District, Eastern Uganda
Turyasingura, Geoffrey Erikana
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Participatory Market Chain Approach (PMCA), a marketing methodology that brings together different actors of a market chain successfully fostered pro-poor market chain innovations in potato products in the Andes. This study sought to analyze farmers’ perceived benefits of PMCA in marketing orange fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSP) in Eastern Uganda. Assessments were made on perceptions towards the benefits of the approach in marketing OFSP among Soroti Sweet Potato Producers and Processors Association (SOSPPA) farmers. The study compared PMCA outcomes and marketing practices of participants and non-participant of PMCA categories of farmers and identified the key benefits and challenges experienced in using the approach. A questionnaire with Likert scaled questions was administered to a sample of 150 farmers from five purposively selected SOSPPA groups that participated in PMCA and five SOSPPA groups that did not participate. An equal number (75) of participant and non-participant farmers in PMCA were selected from the corresponding groups through simple random sampling. Data were also collected from key informants who included National Agricultural Research Organization staff that implemented PMCA, SOSPPA group leaders and extension workers. Focus group discussions (FGDs) involved two groups of 10 individual SOSPPA farmers who were very active in PMCA and those who did not but were very active in their groups. Descriptive statistics, one-way analysis of variance and Mann Whitney U test were used to compare the responses of the two groups of farmers. Findings indicate that there was a significant difference (Z= -7.3, p<0.05) in median scores for outcomes of PMCA among participants and non-participants in PMCA. The mean scores on the knowledge test showed that participants in PMCA (3.9 ± 0.1) were more knowledgeable on the requirements of the OFSP market chain and its actors than the non-participants (2.8 ± 0.1). Furthermore, a bigger proportion of participants (24%) agreed to market their OFSP collectively as a group compared to (11%) non-participants in PMCA. Besides, the mean score (4.3 ± 0.08) of participants in PMCA on use of good marketing practices was higher than (3.3 ± 0.14) for non-participants. The major benefits got by participant farmers in PMCA were acquisition of OFSP marketing skills, knowledge and ideas followed by improvement on their income. The major challenges were having inadequate guidance from facilitators and lack of clear funding for group activities of PMCA by farmers. Generally PMCA was perceived to have benefited participating farmers in the study area as it improved marketing practices of participating farmers. It is recommended that there should be comprehensive training strategies for facilitators before future PMCA application and implementing R&D agencies should negotiate with leaders in the region to incorporate elements of PMCA in agricultural market development to improve its use.