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TOPIC 2_2020: Enhancing marketing among farmer-multipliers (DVMs) to reduce dependence on NGO customers

Over the past years, tremendous progress has been made towards the development of sweetpotato varieties for the consumers in various African countries. These efforts have been funded by the different African governments or (and) international donors. As a result, the availability of improved sweetpotato varieties is no longer the greatest bottleneck to sweetpotato production. Prevailing limitations lie in the areas of having planting material at the start of each crop season and marketing for storage roots and vines. The African market is mainly dominated by informal seed markets for clonally propagated crops; however, various projects have spearheaded the formalization of the seed systems.


In the sweetpotato seed system, several approaches have been undertaken and this led to the development of decentralized vine multipliers (DVMs). Previous studies have shown that these DVMs have three markets (customers) they serve namely; 1) Small holders lacking wetlands 2) Mid-to large-scale farmers lacking wetlands and 3) Projects, mostly led by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) but sometimes by local or national governments. The DVMs have however relied on the NGOs as their primary market. This market is characterized by its large size of purchase, very few number of sales, very high vine price, distant (location) from the DVMs and unpredictability of the regularity of purchase. The pitfalls of this market lead to unforeseen losses by the DVMs. As a result, many DVMs find the business non lucrative and drop out shortly after the support from any funding project ends.

This discussion therefore sought to 1) identify marketing models to enhance the broader inclusion of the other two sweetpotato vine customers 2) Identify the challenges the DVMs face in marketing and possible interventions.