The participatory market chain approach: Stimulating innovations along the indigenous African leafy vegetables market chain
This study (PDF) in the African Journal of Rural Development aimed at improving market access for smallholder farmers (particularly women) in the African Leafy Vegetables (ALV) market chain. ALVs play a significant role in alleviating malnutrition and contribute to income security for smallholder farmers. However, their potential to contribute to food, nutrition and income security has not been fully realized due to dysfunctional market chains. The Participatory Market Chain Approach (PMCA), which aims to stimulate gender-responsive innovations in commodity chains, was used to improve the performance of ALVs market chains in central Uganda. This research demonstrated that joint planning and enhanced collaboration among actors can improve the competitiveness of commodity chains. Results showed that collaboration in the ALV chain resulted into synergies which led to quick wins, stronger relations and improved functionality at the node and chain level. Farmers were able to access tailored services from research and extension which improved their productivity, while linkages to processors and traders improved sales and income. Improved linkages amongst the chain actors instituted a traceability ‘system’ which improved quality and consistency of supply to downstream actors. The joint innovations generated diversified the utility of ALVs but also led to greater visibility, acceptability and improved perception of ALVs. Future research could focus on improving the efficiency of the PMCA process in terms of time and resources. Technical research on multiplication of foundation seed, commercialisation and improvement of shelf-life of vegetable prototypes would significantly contribute to ALV improvement. Further research could also assess how farmers’ participation in the vegetable market value chain impacts the availability of ALV for consumption at household level.