For most countries in southern Africa, food systems are burdened by multiple challenges that include weather extremes such as droughts and floods. These challenges undermine agricultural production and productivity, and ultimately livelihoods. Currently, of particular concern is the COVID-19 pandemic, and that it may continue to compound existing challenges, especially access to domestic agriculture markets and finance by women farmers, the rural and urban poor, and the vulnerable. The lockdown regulations imposed by national governments in the region in response to the pandemic have disrupted the normal functioning of domestic markets and agriculture value chains, resulting in increased prices of food, basic commodities and services. These disruptions have exacerbated the traditional market-related challenges faced by Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), especially smallholder rural farmers across the region.

Markets are the main ‘transmission mechanisms’ between growth in the wider economy and the lives of the poor. Most smallholder farmers (SHF) sell their produce in informal markets that generate limited value. Evidence from research confirms that despite demanding requirements, participation in formal markets increases incomes much more than participation in informal markets. For instance, horticulture farmers producing fruits and vegetables lose a good proportion of their produce due to unpredictable demand in the informal market against poor or lack of cold storage facilities in their local open markets. Advocating for SFH (especially women and youth) to access markets as food producers is critical for fostering pro-poor and inclusive economic growth, thus the need for a structured campaign.

Against this backdrop, the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) has partnered with Oxfam Southern Africa (Oxfam SAF) in an effort to transform market systems in the Southern African region. Over the past 2-3 years, FANRPAN and Oxfam SAF have conducted a series of research studies focusing on four countries, namely Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. These studies aimed at unpacking factors that affect the participation of SHFs, in agricultural markets. Findings show that women farmers play significant roles in production and post-harvest processing, but benefit least from farming enterprises because they are underrepresented in market systems. There is need to create an enabling environment to transform agriculture markets for the smallholder farming households.


 The objective of this campaign is to increase the awareness of the market access constrains faced by SHFs and provide evidence-based solutions to create an enabling and fair environment for farmers to access market.


Regional Campaign Activities

At a regional level, campaign employs a two-pronged online strategy that focuses on (i) barriers to market access, and (ii) stakeholder awareness to provisions within national, regional, and continental frameworks. Whilst largely online, the campaign will culminate in national dialogues within the participating countries; Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

National Campaign Activities

At country level, focus is on operationalizing and socializing the campaign, calling country stakeholders to action. National multi-stakeholder webinars will be conducted, providing an opportunity for interface between non-state actors such as smallholder farmers (including women and youth) with policy makers.





Market Access Provisions

• National Frameworks.
• Southern African Development Community – Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (SADC-RISDP).
• Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development
Programme – (CAADP) Malabo Declaration.
• African Continental Free Trade Agreement – AfCFTA
• Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs.

Barriers to Market Acess

• Lack of implementing programs to transform and develop agricultural markets.
• Inequitable access to means of production for SHFs in the region.
• Lack of enabling market infrastructure (such as roads, processing and storage facilities) and asymmetric market information.
• Lack of capacity and support to farmers such as
R&D and inputs provision.
• Climate change.
• High cost of inputs and ICT tools.
• The outbreak of the coronavirus (Covia-19) pandemic.