Revisiting constraints to smallholder participation in high-value markets: A best-worst scaling approach

Oreoluwa Ola, Luisa Menapace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


We show how policymakers in developing regions can generate richer insights from using the choice experiment method best-worst scaling (BWS) method when ranking policy priorities on an importance scale. More specifically, we adopt BWS to provide an update on constraints that limit the participation of Kenyan horticultural smallholder farmers in modern agricultural value chains. In addition to traditional constraints posed by input market failures and missing institutions, we considered constraints such as trust and familiarity with buyers shown by recent empirical studies to inform smallholders’ market choices. Ascertaining the relevance of these constraints highlights our contribution to the existing literature. We find that farmers consistently rate access to high-quality inputs as their main constraint followed by concerns about access to credit, the high cost of meeting food standards, missing cooperatives, and exploitative intermediaries. Respondents considered insufficient labor, small farmlands, and weak tenure rights as the least important constraints. Age, location, gender, household income, and education influence the relative importance various segments of smallholders place on these constraints. For example, constraints are economic rather than personal for low-income farmers. Counterintuitively, rural smallholders are less likely to perceive poor transportation network as a constraint. Smallholders’ distrust of buyers they interact with is informed by their location and income. In designing intervention initiatives, policies that focus on segments of smallholders are needed for improving smallholder participation in modern agricultural value chains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-608
Number of pages14
JournalAgricultural Economics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • best-worst scaling
  • constraints
  • high-value market channels
  • smallholder heterogeneity


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