Traders’ perceptions of constraints on informal grain marketing in Zimbabwe: implications for household food security and needed research
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Observers of Zimbabwean agriculture often express astonishment at the absence of informal grain markets in the rural areas.2 Hypotheses abound as to the reasons for this: colonial suppression of local entrepreneurship over many decades, poor rural infrastructure, perceived low effective demand in rural areas and lack of profitability given the pricing and marketing structure of the formal sector. This paper reports the results of a survey of 124 grain and grain meal traders operating in Zimbabwe’s communal areas. The study examines: o the structure, behavior and performance of the informal grain trade; ° factors constraining investment and entry into grain transport, storage, and processing; 0 the potential of improved informal markets to enhance household food security in the rural areas; and o government strategies to promote the development and performance of informal grain trade.