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Access to urban markets for small-scale producers of indigenous cereals : a qualitative study of consumption practices and potential demand among urban consumers in Polokwane

Bichard A., Dury S., Schönfeldt H.C., Moroka T., Motau F., Bricas N.. 2005. Development Southern Africa, 22 (1) : p. 125-141.

This study of urban residents of Polokwane, the capital of the Limpopo province in South Africa, was designed to describe how, where, when and by whom sorghum and millet are consumed; how the subjects of the study perceived these grains; to what extent the produce of small-scale producers was considered acceptable; and to gauge their potential demand for products derived from indigenous cereals. Qualitative data were collected using individual interviews and focus-group sessions. The findings suggest that sorghum, which is easily purchasable in town, is widely consumed, mainly as soft porridge, but also as thick porridge, fermented porridge and sorghum beer. The age of consumers, the closeness of their links with rural areas and their religion influence their consumption of sorghum products. Sorghum is seen as being healthy, nutritious and traditional, but inconvenient to cook and preserve. Millet, which is not readily available in Polokwane, is considered old-fashioned. A 'need for tradition', or its opposite, a 'need for modernity', among consumers underlies their demand for products derived from indigenous cereals, a demand which is only partially satisfied. Many respondents would be ready to purchase products originating from small-scale farmers; some may believe that the quality of the produce of small farms is better, or may feel solidarity with small farmers and want to support them. This paper presents ideas for further investigation about the possibility of developing specific products and marketing strategies that will allow small-scale farmers to meet an unsatisfied urban demand.

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