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Making the Most of Market Chains: Challenges for small-scale farmers and traders in upland Vietnam

Market development is key to raising the living standards of people who live in Vietnam’s uplands. Policies and development programmes to help farmers improve production and processing of forest and agricultural products will always be limited without parallel support to marketing. This study shows that efforts to assist farmers (and harvesters of natural produce) to get better and more reliable prices need to take into account full market chains - not just what happens at the “farm gate”. Market opportunities and prices are constrained by factors that affect traders first, with knock-on impacts on producers. Constraints range from heavy burdens of formal and informal taxes to a basic lack of information in villages and district market places. Policy solution lie not in drawing up new policy statements, but rather in better implementation of the many very positive policies that already exist to support poor upland residents. Fundamentally, better implementation may require some deep-rooted changes in the culture of government and development agencies, to support the individual and group initiatives that small-scale farmers and traders are developing for themselves.

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