PR - Factors Constraining Participation Of Swaziland’s Mushroom Producers In Mainstream Markets
Mushrooms have been cultivated in Swaziland since 2001 as part of a long-term programme which 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 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 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 findings indicate that availability of marketable surplus is affected by production constraints emanating from lack of access to key inputs and services, which are more centralised and fully controlled by the government. While producers currently receive a minimum of about 64% share of the consumer price, 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 makes several recommendations, which are reflective of producers’ socio-economic status and Swaziland’s institutional environment.
Key words: mushrooms, market participation, value chain, Swaziland