Characterization of yam business diversity in Guadeloupe (French Antilles)
In 2009, yam production was 50 million tons all over the world (FAO, 2009). It is the main food crop in Guadeloupe and the fourth crop after sugar cane, banana and melon (Chambre dâ€™Agriculture, 2009), all threes targeting the European market in majority. One priority and objective of agronomic research in the French Antilles is to foster the development of agrifood chains. Next to the well structured and dominating crops that are sugar and banana, yam production appears to be an informal and still not very well known sector. The objective of the present study is to characterize yam marketing chains in Guadeloupe. Yam producers and distributors were inquired for that purpose. The actors of yam marketing are numerous and the diversity of the marketing chains is high. Whereas imported yam is mostly sold via a structured network, locally produced yam is sold via informal networks in which the rules of coordination between actors are based on truthfulness and moral contracts. Marketing chains are contrasted and imply different types of exchange. For example in the direct sale chain, yam is sold directly from the producer to the consumer whereas yam that is sold in the supermarkets goes through a more important number of intermediaries. The different types of market retailing channels imply different requirements and constraints that influence farmersâ€™ choices of commercialization. These reveal farmersâ€™ strategies. Some producers rely mainly on yam for their income and prefer to maximize their profit by selling their production on farms or markets. For others, growing yam is only one production alongside their main crop and they prefer to sell it quickly thanks to intermediaries. Our results suggest that a way to develop yam agrifood chain is by improving the matching between supply and demand. Therefore, it is necessary to better know consumersâ€™ expectations and to study the determinants of their buying choices for yam (warranty of origin and way of production, taste criteria, pricesâ€¦).
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