Targeting and Sustaining a Niche Market: A Case Study of Green Pod Chickpea Marketing in Ethiopia

Yidnekachew Wondimu Zewde


Ethiopia is a leading producer of chickpea in Sub-Saharan Africa and the crop plays substantial role in household food and nutrition security, soil fertility restoration and national export earnings. Recent market studies show that farmers often sell chickpea in grain form and it reaches the final consumer through complex and long supply channels involving various market actors. However, Green Pod Chickpea (GPCP) marketing is a recently evolving phenomenon as a niche market, and there has been a considerable boost in its supply over the past five years. The objective of this paper is to critically examine the main driving forces behind GPCP marketing and assess whether it is a viable and sustainable option for smallholder farmers. Despite the relevance of multilayer evidences, the research and development efforts to understand, evaluate and support GPCP marketing scheme are very much limited—the issue has not received the attention it deserves. Farmers are still relying on old varieties with very minimal extension support and the degree to which the niche market would be able to absorb the growing number of aspiring GPCP market participants is still unclear. In nutshell, there is limited information and knowledge about the size and characteristics of GPCP market. To the best of our understanding, this study is the first of its kind to critically examine the viability of GPCP marketing scheme, and we hope that the findings could help bridge the knowledge gap, provide policy inputs and serve as reference for further studies in the area. To answer the research questions, we have collected data from chickpea producers, extension workers and market actors, and the data has been analyzed using descriptive and econometric methods. The findings clearly show that GPCP marketing is variety-specific: the market strongly favors the localized black and improved Marye varieties mainly due to their taste. To make GPCP buying decision, market actors such as consumer and vendors consider certain crop parameters and attributes including, pod color, pod size, freshness, neatness, pods per plant, variety (Desi or Kabuli) etc. As the multiple regression results show, proximity to market, gender, livelihood status, family size, harvesting and post-harvesting costs, grain and GPCP price gap, and access to finance are the main factors affecting the amount of GPCP traded. The structure and functioning of GPCP market is quite different from that of grain market: it is less complex and involves few intermediaries with short supply chain. To widen market base, availing more GPCP product options and value addition efforts (cleaning, peeling, cooking, roasting, packaging, and labeling) could be crucial entry points. Besides, the research and extension system should address the concerns of GPCP producers and engage them during variety release, training provision and capacity building sessions. To shade more light on the scalability and future prospect of such marketing scheme, further studies pertinent to its structure and functioning are vital. At policy level, mainstreaming it into the food and nutrition product stream could have paramount importance.

Keywords: Marketing Schemes, Green Pod Chickpea, Niche Market, Value Chain Actors, Viability, Scalability

DOI: 10.7176/JMCR/56-05

Publication date:May 31st 2019

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