Export Market Linkage via Gentleman's Agreement: Evidence from French Bean Marketing in Kenya
"Gentleman's agreements" involving handshakes or promissory market access possibilities through brokers and middlemen have enabled most small farmers in Kenya to export an extensive array of fruits and vegetables. However, despite rapid expansion into these forms of market linkages, there has been a dearth of empirical information regarding the factors that such marketers consider when linking small farmers to the market. This paper uses data from a 2001 French bean farmers survey conducted in Mwea Tebere Central Kenya to evaluate household and infrastructural factors determining informal linkages for French bean marketing. Logit estimates show that irrigation equipment is a prerequisite for linkage, farm localities further from central crop collection centres and close proximity of farms to source of irrigation waters, and poor accessibility of large farms preferred by brokers in linking small farmers. The results lend credence to the importance of brokers and middlemen as an emerging institution in linking small farmers to export markets in rural regions that have poor infrastructures e.g. roads.
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