Market access constraints among smallholder citrus fruit farmers in Soroti district
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The purpose of the study was to assess market access constraints among the small-holder citrus fruit farmers in Soroti district in order to identify strategies for enhancing their incomes in Arapai, Kamuda and Asuret Sub Counties with a view of recommending on how to improve collective action / marketing of citrus in Teso and as a region based. Specifically, the study was intended to achieve the following objectives: (1) to characterize citrus fruit farmers in Soroti district ( 2) To assess the nature of markets accessed by citrus fruit farmers in Soroti District (3) To identify critical challenges that citrus fruit farmers in Soroti District face in accessing markets for their produce. The study adopted a cross-sectional survey research design. Quantitative and qualitative approaches of data collection were employed. A total of 120 respondents constituted the sample of the study. Three types of research instruments were used; namely questionnaires, interviews and observation. The results revealed that citrus fruit farmers benefit from collective action / marketing through access to services including among others access to production and market information from farmer associations, access to credit through Savings and Credit Co-operative Organizations (SACCOs), collective marketing of produce sold in bulk through the Area Co-operative Enterprises (ACEs) and, Rural Producer organizations (RPOs) at the grassroots. The results also showed that the small holder citrus farmers have access to various markets in Teso and outside Teso region. The results also proved that the small-holder citrus farmers face very many challenges during production and marketing of the citrus fruits. These challenges ranged from human factors, environmental factors and government policy related factorsthat are not favoring the production and marketing of the products in the subsector for example low price of products, pests and diseases, prolonged drought among others. In conclusion, the majority respondents who are categorized usually enjoy economies of scale during marketing through collective action and usually have access to market information as well as production information. The recommendations were that, there is need to sensitize citrus famers on the advantages of collective and bulk marketing in accessing market opportunities. There is a need for bigger processing factory to accommodate all kind of fruits not only citrus juice because the demand for processed juice is on the increase in urban areas and yet citrus juice processing in Uganda is still at its infancy stage. Human factors, environmental factors, climatic factors and governmental policies that are not favoring the production and marketing in the sub sector also existed. The farmers are still too vulnerable to shocks which include price and weather fluctuations and the risk of entering new markets for many is an overwhelming challenge hence government should come to protect citrus farmers .