n Agrekon - Socio-economic and institutional factors constraining participation of Swaziland's mushroom producers in mainstream markets : an application of the value chain approach

Volume 52, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0303-1853
  • E-ISSN: 2078-0400
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Mushrooms have been cultivated in Swaziland since 2001 as part of a long-term programme that seeks to improve rural livelihoods through commercial production of non-conventional high-value commodities. Despite the availability of niche markets, and various forms of support received by producers, Swaziland is still a net importer of locally consumed cultivated mushrooms. This study uses a value chain approach to identify the underlying factors constraining local production and producers' participation in mainstream markets. Understanding the nature of these constraints and how they can possibly be alleviated is very important from a policy perspective as this process will inform the formulation of improved market access strategies required to achieve the programme's overall objective. The results indicate that availability of marketable surplus is affected by production constraints emanating from lack of access to key inputs and services, which are centralised and fully controlled by the government. While producers currently attain higher gross margins (in absolute value and as a proportion of consumer price) compared with other actors in alternative marketing channels, their efforts to participate more profitably in mainstream markets are hampered by poor value chain governance and lack of vertical coordination, subjecting both producers and buyers to various forms of transaction costs. In attempting to address the identified constraints, this study calls for privatisation of key services, allowing the government to assume a monitoring role. Further recommendations are also made towards institutionalising and strengthening collective marketing under different options, which reflect producers' socio-economic status and the prevailing institutional environment in Swaziland.

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