Collective market participation for improved income among smallholder farming households: a case of Balaka Innovation Platform in Malawi
Collective market participation can reduce transaction costs and information asymmetries, which can build up market power. The objective of this study was to evaluate decisions to participate in collective marketing and its effect on household income among smallholder farmers in an Innovation Platform (IP). This study targeted the Balaka IP in Malawi. Collective marketing identified as critical for improving households’ incomes, is one of the activities that Balaka Innovation Platform has been addressing since its formation in 2009. The study involved a sample of 115 randomly selected households from Balaka Innovation Platform. The odds of participating in collective marketing by smallholder farm households in Balaka was significantly influenced by gender, education level, access to social capital through membership in farmer groups that form the Innovation Platform, farming experience, adoption/practice of conservation agriculture and possession of assets e.g. cellphone and bicycle. Moreover, results indicate that functions of IPs such as organising farmers to market collectively, promoting crop diversification, improved extension service, credit access through linkages to microfinance, communication and market linkages, positively influence income. Thus participation in multi-stakeholder IP activities highly influences collective marketing, which in turn impacts positively on smallholder farming households’ income.
Keywords: Cellphone, collective marketing, linkages, multi-stakeholder