Investigation of marketing of small-scale peanut agribusinesses in the Vulamehlo District, Southern KwaZulu-Natal.
The main objective of the study was to investigate the marketing strategies needed for the development of a peanut agribusiness for small-scale farmers producing peanuts in the Vulamehlo District, southern KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). The study was part of the extension programme of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs (KZNDAEA). Another aim of the study was to examine the market requirements for peanuts purchased from Vulamehlo farmers in relation to the processing and sale of peanuts and whether or not market outlets for peanut products in KZN were available. In addition, current links between farmers, peanut processors, agents and retailers were to determine, if the marketing of peanut butter produced by small-scale farmers could be improved. Small-scale farmers were targeted because they play an important role in rural areas for community development and for poverty alleviation and also to generate income. There is little research on small-scale agribusinesses. Small-scale farmers have unreliable supply chains and markets. The study was conducted between May and November 2005. The data for the development of agribusiness for small-scale farmers in the Vulamehlo district were gathered from four wards of Vulamehlo: Mkhunya, Qiko, Mzimlilo and Mazabangwane. Questionnaires, a focus group discussion and observation were used to collect data from farmers and informal processors of peanut butter. Interviews were conducted with informal traders, formal traders and a formal peanut butter processor, to collect information about their marketing of peanut products. Six peanut producing farmers’ associations out of ten were randomly selected from the list of farmers’ associations in the Vulamehlo District. Details were obtained from the Department of Agriculture office. The study found that the marketing requirements needing to be met by small-scale farmers include availability of adaptable certified peanut seeds, appropriate tools and equipments for cultivation, reliable supply of raw material, grading and testing of level of aflatoxin in peanuts, knowledge of processing regulation to food safety and hygiene, proper business and management skills and relevant technology and marketing information. The study revealed that there were no seed companies around Vulamehlo sold peanut seeds and there were no commercial peanut-producing farmers in KZN to assist small-scale farmers. Farmers were using manual tools for the peanut production process. This limited production and expansion and lowered the yield. Constant supply may be a problem for the business processing enterprises. The markets for Vulamehlo peanut producing farmers were informal and insecure. The peanut butter co-operative lacked processing equipment, processing know-how, energy-saving technology and marketing information. It is recommended that developing agribusiness linkages with suppliers, traders, farmers and processors would improve the small-scale farmers’ negotiating skills. The KZNDAEA should improve links with large-scale farmers, traders, suppliers and processors, in order to obtain more information on peanut production. Contamination, especially by aflatoxin, during the processing of peanut products should be eliminated.
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