Penetrating the market as a subsistence or rural farmer is difficult, but not impossible. It is difficult because the commercial markets come with a lot of demands that rural farmers often do not have the skills to achieve.

Before rural farmers plant, they should have identified the type of market they want to supply, know the requisite good agricultural practices of the market, and have relationships with role players in the market they want to supply.

Culturally, for example, farmers in the Eastern Cape plant maize in abundance because maize is also a staple food. Throughout the summer and into autumn fields are brimming with maize that tends to be in surplus supply because it cannot be consumed by subsistence farmers’ families only.

Often these farmers will opt to use small informal markets such as street vendors to sell their produce, which hinders financial productivity. The reality is with mandatory agricultural requirements of the market: farmers cannot just take their maize to different markets because different markets require different types of maize and subsistence farmers must tailor-make their produce to suit relevant niche markets.

Furthermore, interprovincial trade must be strengthened to benefit rural farmers, as the Eastern Cape is the biggest cultivator of maize, which can be processed and used as feed and other products. 

Sinazo Alungile Novukela 

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