Structure and performance of informal urban food markets: a case of food vending in Kampala Metropolitan Areas
The urban population is continuously increasing and it’s mainly comprising of the youths without academic qualifications. The informal food vendors are major junctions of food systems in the urban areas of Uganda. Informal food vending has low barriers to entry however there has been lack of evidence on the performance of the venture to inform whether it’s profitable enough to provide employment and accommodate the growing urban population. The specific objectives of the study included; to characterize the participants of informal food vending and to determine the business performance of informal food vending in Kampala metropolitan areas. A total of 110 informal food vendors that were obtained using the Cochran’s Formula (1963) were studied in 10 villages of Kampala and Wakiso. The respondents were purposively selected specifying the business of operation while the exact respondents to be interviewed were selected using systematic sampling method where the researcher interviewed one vendor then skipped two vendors and interviewed the next. A questionnaire was used to capture the primary data in addition to interview and observation methods. The data was cleaned and entered into SPSS version 16.0 and then analyzed using descriptive statistics The findings showed that youths (19-40) years mainly dominated the informal food vending business, majority with low levels of education i.e., average of 12 years spent in school and were not employed in the formal sector however some had other sources of income. Informal food vending markets were very competitive (2 – 15) competitors because of the low barriers to entry and the mostly used competition strategy was customer care. Participation in the business was mainly driven by unemployment (40%). Informal food vending was profitable to the participants and those that added value to the food such as cooking, peeling, making juice or snacks and packaging earn more profits than those who did not. The major challenges faced by the vendors included the high prices of the raw materials, KCCA attacks on the businesses and the poor sanitation in the areas of operation. The business was found to be profitable enough to be a source of employment for the increasing population. Thus the government should support training and capacity building of the vendors. The vendors should form organized groups to have a collective voice. URA should lower tax charges on commodities especially fuel. KCCA should devise means of harmonizing the city plans to accommodate the informal vending business under considerable laws and regulations. The town council together with the vendors should devise means of maintaining the centers clean though communal cleaning, establishing proper places for disposing waste and support waste recycling projects as a form of waste management.