The integration of smallholders with the market is essential to provide enough food for the growing populations in most African countries. The existing literature emphasizes in that respect the role of transaction costs. This paper offers a complementary view, namely individual-level market learning, which is conceptually integrated in the existing market integration framework. The paper demonstrates that market learning will play a mediating role between the traditional factors studied in the export market integration debate, like the state of the infrastructure, the possession of assets and access to (micro) credit. A higher level of market learning will strengthen market integration, and subsequently increase food availability on the market and improve smallholders’ livelihoods. The implication is that in addition to strengthening factors that reduce transaction costs, policy-makers should design and implement interventions that help smallholders to develop more insights in their market as a basis for individual-level decision-making.
Key words: Markets, market integration, smallholders, market learning.
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