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Technical studies and survey formats

Chapter 5
Participatory agricultural marketing surveys

This chapter provides a method for undertaking simple participatory surveys of the marketing practices of rural communities:
1.It describes the approach that needs to be undertaken, including the preparations that need to be made before starting the survey.
2.It outlines the participatory survey process.
3.It gives a step by step method for undertaking a participatory survey.
4.It describes how to interpret survey data on marketing channels, costs, margins and problems.
5.Finally, it describes the lessons learned from previous surveys that might be useful for the design of a new survey.


Before designing marketing interventions that may impact on specific communities’, surveys need to be undertaken. This chapter (and form A) provides an example of a participatory approach, using focus groups of producers, to assess existing marketing channels.

Marketing networks reflect varied and complex social and economic interrelationships. however, any methods utilized in assessing marketing systems needs to be easy to apply and be well understood by rural communities. usually, answering direct questions on marketing is not difficult for farmers and they are able to express opinions on the problems they encounter. Such discussions are very useful as a means of obtaining a rapid and representative assessment of local marketing conditions and problems. for example, alternative transport modes may be discovered and the role of commission agents and traders buying at the farmgate may be highlighted from the surveys.

Scope of the surveys

A marketing survey of farmer groups needs to capture a number of different factors:

The design of the questionnaire will be affected by these factors, but it may not be necessary to take account of all of them. It is usually better to concentrate on the key crops - those crops that form the staple diet of the community and those that normally provide cash income.

Survey approach

The method described below has been field tested and found to be very effective in providing a gender sensitive and rapid assessment of marketing conditions. Although this survey method is useful for understanding the process of marketing, for making any quantitative analysis a more systematic method is needed. This normally requires a consumption survey and as this involves interviewing individual households it is rather time-consuming and should only be employed when absolutely necessary.

Preparation for the survey

Selection of communities:
The first step in the survey is the selection of the communities to be surveyed. This can be based on the specific characteristics of the community or on a sample basis. The former case may apply when a particular community is to be targeted for assistance or when a set of specific characteristics need to be evaluated - such as communities with special features or located in a particular area.

When making a general review of marketing channels a sampling approach will need to be adopted. The sample can be either taken on a random basis or it could be stratified. for example, if the marketing problems of villages in a large-scale irrigation area were being examined the strata might be determined from the location of the communities in relation to the supply of irrigation water. Another obvious stratum would be to sample on the basis of wealth ranking so variations in marketing practices can be related to family incomes and whether a community is remote from marketing outlets.

Review existing data:
As discussed in Chapter 3, it is important before starting the survey process to review any data that is already available on the communities, including existing participatory and formal/official surveys (such as an agricultural or population census).

The survey formats shown at the end of this chapter (forms 5.1–5.3) should provide a useful starting point for designing new forms. however, they are likely to need to be modified to make them appropriate for particular requirements. for example, it may be necessary to design separate formats for women and men, so that they could be interviewed independently. In all cases it is essential to test the survey formats before applying them comprehensively in the field.


A participatory survey uses the typical format practised with farmer training schools, with the participants sitting cross-legged in a circle, usually in the space under a house or tree, or in a primary school. The facilitators usually stand in front of them using flip charts to record the results of the dialogue. A single facilitator could handle the session, but it is usually better if it is undertaken jointly by a male and a female facilitator.

Status profile

The survey should start with a general introduction on the purpose of the meeting. The facilitators should give their names and ask the participants to give theirs. To put the participants at ease the facilitators usually take the villagers through a status profile of the groups. This gives a rapid overview of the village based on the types of factors that provide indicators of the community’s wealth and economic vulnerability. The factors normally include the size of their land holding, the size of the family (to give an indication of dependency), whether the family has a single head and the ownership of key assets. The latter may include the type of roof covering, access to transport facilities and whether villagers own a radio or TV. The type of assets will obviously vary with the level of development of the community. The group’s answers can be entered into a flipchart table, the data being disaggregated by gender.

Ranking produce

The group is then asked to rank their agricultural produce in terms of its importance both as food for the family and as produce for sale (the staple crop, such as rice or corn is usually ranked first). The participants may find the concept of ranking to be difficult - for example ranking a list of ten crops in importance. An alternative approach is to get the participants to pick the top three items, then start again and pick the next three, etc.

Utilization of produce

Based on the ranking that is agreed upon, the group is then asked to estimate the utilization of the produce: whether the produce was used for eating, retained for seed, used as animal feed, processed or sold at market or farmgate. In some cultures the gifting of produce or bartering may also be important. Percentages may be difficult to grasp and the interviewers may find it necessary to use simple fractions (e.g. ¼, ½, ¾, ⅓ and ⅔) instead of percentages.

A single question on “processing” will give limited information; only really whether produce is being processed or not. however, to obtain more useful information would require a duplication of the survey process; asking whether the processed food was being consumed at home, gifted, sold at the farmgate or sold at the market. This would add significantly to the survey time. If processing is important or one of the main purposes of the survey is to target processing then it may be worthwhile to include further questions.

Problem assessment

The last step in the participatory survey is to ask the group to try and evaluate their main products in terms of the problems they have with storing, marketing and processing them. Although the participants would define which crops should be analysed, in many circumstances it may be possible to use a standardized list of crops, making comparisons between groups easier.

One of the main difficulties with a problem analysis is how to use the facilitators (often inexperienced extension staff or university students) to probe into the farmer’s problems. There is a difficult balance to be struck between provoking the farmers (by providing them with a list of possible issues) and trying to get the farmers to define their own issues. The problem analysis might be divided into three sections and for the first two sections (dealing with post-harvest and processing) a standard list of problems usually works well as the issues are quite concrete.

However, the third section of the problem analysis deals with marketing; a subject in which the issues tend to be inter-related. An open-ended list of problems is often not very useful, as there is a tendency for all the boxes in the form to be checked, as they are all seen as relevant. This does not produce very useful answers. The answer for marketing may be to use more provoking questions, such as “if there was one or two things that could be done to help marketing what would they be”? If the answer was, say, market information and transport, then a few further questions might be asked to define what the participants meant.

Although there are other techniques used in problem analysis, such as SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunity and threats) analysis and problem trees, these are probably no more useful than the approach described above.


The steps outlined below might be followed in a community level survey of the
Marketing and processing needs of small-scale producers. The process can be used
on a selected or sample basis to obtain an overall impression of the working of the Marketing system (steps 1–8). Alternatively, it can be used as an overall approach
directed at a specific community who are being targeted for a marketing intervention
programme (in which case all the steps 1–12 will need to be followed).

Step 1:
Select the communities to be targeted (based on specific characteristics or on a sample basis).

Step 2:
Review the data already available on the communities, including existing PRA and formal/official surveys (such as an agricultural or a population census).

Step 3:
Build-up a profile of the communities, including:

Step 4:
On the basis of step 3, decide on what information is missing and will need to be collected during the marketing PRA. use the PRA formats (forms 5.1–5.3) as a starting point and as a checklist of what needs to be considered.

Step 5:
Consider whether the marketing/ processing PRA process has to be separately applied for men and women, or is better combined.

Step 6:
Design and test the marketing/processing PRA format. If it is believed necessary, develop separate formats for women and men. Consider if any supplementary survey may be needed, such as:

Step 7:
Make arrangements for the PRA, including transport, payments and notify people that you are coming on a particular date, such as the villagers themselves, local officials, etc.

Step 8:
Undertake the PRA, separating men and women if necessary. Typical formats for the
survey flipcharts are shown in form 5.1:

  1. social status;
  2. product utilization of main crops; and
  3. problem analysis of typical crops.

Use detailed production and consumption surveys to fill in any gaps, for a stratified sample of the farmers (see forms 5.2 and 5.3). Limit the number of surveys so that a real understanding can be obtained. discuss the overall results with the villagers before leaving. Remember to thank the farmers for their assistance.

Step 9:
Undertake follow-up surveys with buyers, market traders and consumers (see Chapter 6).

Step 10:
Analyse the results of the PRA and other surveys. Prepare some options (on an individual and group basis) that might be considered for answering the farmer’s Marketing and processing needs.

Step 11:
Discuss the various options with the villagers and try to reach agreement on practical steps that can be taken to implement the proposals.

Step 12:
Design, cost and implement the proposals. make sure that a simple means for monitoring and assessing the impact of the proposals is also included.


The following examples of analysing group surveys are drawn from a number of FAO projects where participatory planning techniques have been used.

Status profile - background to communities

The first analysis should be of the community’s status profile. In most cases, using the survey format given in form 5.1a the information collected will be used to produce a qualitative description of the community. Table 7 shows the data on social status collected at a village in Cambodia. Such data can also be aggregated for a group of villages to obtain a general overview or to review the variations between areas in terms of the ownership of assets.

Social status of farmer group (number of participants)

Status factorFemaleMaleTotal
Number of participants13821
Single household head303
Land holding:   
- Houseplot only000
- Houseplot + <0.5 hectares13518
- Houseplot + >0.5 hectares033
Household size:   
- < 5 people437
- average (5–6 people)011
- > 6 people9413
Wealth indicators/assets   
Roof covering - thatch538
Roof covering - galvanized iron7310
Roof covering - tiles123
Motor bike336
Boat - links to market 3 km from village9514
Buffalo (for draught purposes)000

Source: GP/INT/750/FIP

Comparative utilization of produce


Palau, marketing problems - all crops


Analysis of marketing channels

Group survey is very useful as a means of understanding marketing channels. Presenting the results of the surveys can be accomplished by tabulating the results or by using graphs to show how the marketing channels might vary both by crop and by area. Table 8 shows tabulated results of a number of group surveys, with the results expressed as quantities, as the small scale of the survey allowed reasonable estimates to be made of the amounts. The table can also be used to show the utilization by crop as percentages of the total production.

Another way of presenting the data is in diagram form as in figure 7, which compares the utilization of produce in Palau.

Alternatively, the tabular data can be used to present an overall summary of the marketing situation, as shown in Box 11.

The other topic that is normally covered by group surveys is how the groups perceive the problems they have with marketing their produce. This again could be presented in a tabular format or as a diagram. figure 8 illustrates the problems identified by producers for all crops marketed in Palau. The percentages represent the numbers of farmers identifying the particular marketing problem. Alternatively, the diagram could have shown the marketing problems for a single village or an individual crop.

Analysis of marketing margins

When undertaking the surveys of producers mention is often made by producers that the visiting traders buying at the farmgate have fixed prices and there is no room for negotiation. Another point frequently raised in discussions is the apparent lower prices obtained at the farmgate, compared to prices that might be obtained in the market.

Farm household annual food balance

Taro1 580.71 220.689.8-45.9355.6
Other roots1 377.11 016.979.63.7395.3
Fruit2 148.91 765.0175.5-21.5563.3
Total5 829.94 602.9704.1-75.11 776.6
% of total-79%12%-1.2%30.5%

Source: TCP/PAL/2902

Box 11
Palau, comparison of fruit marketing
-All groups retained bananas for home consumption, but 60 percent also sell at local markets and a limited amount is sold at the farmgate (25 percent).
-Of the groups growing betel nut all retained some for consumption, but the majority was marketed, 92 percent of the groups using local markets and 30 percent selling at farmgate.
-Two-thirds of the groups producing coconuts retained some for home consumption, but the majority of groups (75 percent) sold at local markets and a limited amount at farmgate (15 percent).

Marketing margins for cucumbers

Build up of marketing costs and benefitsUnitBy bicycleBy motorbike
Distance to marketkm1717
Transport costR/kg/km119
Maximum loadkg3060
Transport cost to marketRiel5 6109 180
Market fee (daily fee)Riel300500
Total costs 5 9105 680
Load that might be sold (@ 90% of total)kg2754
Margin based on survey price - Quoted market price minus farmgate price actually obtained.Riel200200
Possible incremental incomeRiel5 40010 800
Net Profit (income less total costs)Riel-5101120
Net Profit as % of incremental income%-5.910.4

Sources: GP/INT/750/FIP (FAO) and household Travel and Transport Analysis. ILo Se Series no. 3 (ILO). Phnom Penh

Production by farm families (lbs.)

CropSmall scaleMarket gardensCommercial farmsTotal
taro94 18368 5356 420169 138
other root55 88974 00317 640147 532
vegetables6 79926 77043 79577 364
fruit107 44188 79733 698229 936
Total lb.264 312258 105101 553623 970
tons per household1.973.264.622.65
% of total42.4%41.4%16.3%100.0%

Source: FAO Project TCP/PAL/2902

This is often not really substantiated if the marketing costs collected during the market utilization survey are examined in detail. To do this, however, it will be necessary to collect some additional information on typical transport costs and market fees.

Table 9 shows an example in Cambodia of the type of profits that might be obtained if the farmers took the product to market instead of selling at the farmgate. The illustration uses cucumbers, which is a vegetable with a generally higher retail price per kilogram. despite this, the profit margin for selling is just about reasonable for a larger load transported by motorbike (10.4 percent) and is negative (-5.9 percent) for a load transported by bicycle. If transport costs were ignored there would of course be a profit - but this is an unrealistic assumption.

If resources are available to undertake a sample survey of the farm households in the group, using the survey formats shown in form 5.2 to produce the summary shown in form 5.3. Table 10 shows the results of such a survey of 107 farm families, distinguishing between the production characteristics of different types of farms: small-scale/subsistence farmers, market gardeners and larger commercially oriented farms. Table 11 presents the household level production and consumption data for Palau in a disaggregated manner, highlighting the differences by gender.


The participatory survey method is easy to apply; taking around two hours per village group. The most difficult part is to ensure that the participants are really members of the community, as opposed to those who simply join the group or are government counterparts. with more time, it is possible to carefully quantify average production - which is useful for establishing whether there is really a surplus being produced for sale. If there are already some concrete proposals for improving the marketing system these should be included as part of the problem analysis (described in step 8 above).

Palau, comparative production and consumption of female-headed households

Household typeTaroOther rootsVegetablesFruitRice
Female-headed1 566.9874.1318.12 293.00
Male-headed1 588.01 643.0937.02 072.00
Overall sample1 580.71 377.1723.02 148.90
Household consumption (lb.):     
Overall sample355.6395.3462.4563.3789.8

Source: FAO Project TCP/PAL/2902

Subsistence communities

The greatest difficulty with these surveys is with traditional subsistence, often non-literate, communities. how these communities dispose of their produce will often be difficult to understand. market places for exchange of goods do not evolve unless there is some specialization in production, a surplus to sell and there is a need for trade between different communities, rather than exchange within the same group.

Barter is often the most common form of exchange in these communities, sometimes based on established values for goods, or derived from a bargaining process. not all crops will necessarily be bartered though. A cash crop, even though the quantity is very small, may be sold to raise money for expenses, while other crops may be bartered with neighbouring areas. Another important means of disposal of produce is often through gifts and traditional forms of exchange, typically corresponding with birth, marriage and funeral rites. In some communities, such as those in the South Pacific, this may make up a significant part of “surplus” production.

However, even where subsistence communities are remote, if there is sufficient surplus middlemen will exist to aid the transaction process. whether these activities are undertaken within a permanent or temporary market, at a roadside or by collection from the farmgate will depend on the value of the produce, cost of transport and local sales customs. An example of the main marketing methods, derived from a survey of a subsistence community in Cambodia, of the channels for disposing of surpluses is shown in Box 12.

Box 12
Examples of marketing channels - Cambodia
-The families in the survey area ate most of their rice production and only a limited amount was sold. - Corn was sold through both farmgate or market channels, but larger quantities were disposed of at the farmgate.
-Vegetable sales were predominately made in the markets, except for Chinese cabbage, which was more typically sold at the farmgate. This was consistent with the need to dispose of fresh products immediately after harvesting.
-Slightly more fruits were sold at farmgate than at the markets. more heavy and bulky fruits, for example such as coconuts and watermelon, tended to be sold at farmgate, whilst smaller lighter loads of fruit were sold in markets.
-In the case of some fruits, such as mango, the fruit was sold in advance on the tree.
-Most livestock products were sold at the farmgate, except chickens and eggs, which were sold at markets.
-In summary, livestock and heavy products that were difficult to transport, such as coconut and watermelon, were mostly sold at farmgate, while perishable fruits and vegetables were usually brought to the market. Transport and handling of the produce was usually undertaken by men, while women were responsible for sales.


The community-level information can also be supplemented by following up on the market chain (see Chapter 6). This includes undertaking surveys in local markets, which will allow a more detailed assessment to be made of demand. other surveys include interviews with buyers/collectors and with market traders.


Form 5.1: Community PRA survey - typical format

a. Social status (number of respondents recorded)

Status factorFemale participantMale participantTotal participants
Number of participants   
Single household head   
Land holding:   
- Houseplot only   
- Houseplot + <0.5 hectares   
- Houseplot + >0.5 hectares   
Household size:   
- < 5 persons   
- average (5–6 persons)   
- > 6 person   
Wealth indicators/assets   
Roof covering - thatch   
Roof covering - galvanized iron   
Roof covering - tiles   
Motor bike   
Boat - links to market 3 km from village   
Buffalo (for draught purposes)   

b. Production utilization of main crops (group opinion on % of total)

Products - ranked in importanceConsumption %Processed %Sold at farmgateSold at market
 foodSeedAnimal feed%$/kg%$/kg
1. Rice        
2. Cucumber        
3. Watermelon        
4. Pigs        
5. Fish        
6. Vegetables        
7. Fruit        

c. Problem analysis of typical crops (group opinions recorded)

1. Storage     
- home storage     
- community storage     
- pests     
- prices and margins     
2. Marketing     
- transport     
- linkage with traders     
- prices and margins     
3. Processing     
- home processing     
- mills and processors     
- prices and margins     

Form 5.2: household food marketing and consumption survey

1. Date of survey  2. Location - Province /district  3. Village name   4. Name and gender of farmerMale Female

 Land holding (ha)Roof type: thatch/GI/titleBicycleMotorbike?Buffalo and cart?TV?Radio?
5. Female head of household?  6. Family assets       

7. Family size (no. of persons and age)male adultfemale adultother adultmale childmale childmale childfemale childfemale childfemale child
8. Production and consumption of produceTotal production in dry season (kg)Total production in wet season (kg)Total production (wet and dry season) (kg)Amount sold annually to traders collecting from farmgate/village (kg)Amount sold annually by farmer at market or trader at market (kg)Retained annually for seed(kg)Amount bought annually (kg)Amount eaten daily by the family in dry season(kg)Amount eaten daily by family in wet season (kg)
Chinese cabbage         
Green cabbage         
Papaya, etc.         

9. Livestock/animals used for foodstuffNo. produced annuallyAmount produced annually in kgSold at farmgate in kgSold at market in kgAmount bought annually to eat in kg

Form 5.3: Analysis of production sales and consumption

1. Date of survey  2, Location - Province/District/Village  3. Average family size of farmers interviewed 

Summary of production & sales Summary of consumption
 Total production (wet and dry season) (kg)Total sold surplus at farmgate/village or market (kg)Total sold surplus as a % of total productionAverage amount bought annually in (kg) Average amount eaten daily by the family (kg)Total amount eaten annually by the family (kg)Amount eaten annually per capita (kg)
Total grains/pulses        
Cabbage etc.        
Total vegetables        
Banana etc.        
Total fruit        
Total meat etc.        

Chapter 6
Follow-up interviews and surveys

The scope of this chapter covers:
1.The purpose of follow-up surveys.
2.Who will need to be interviewed?
3.The basic approach to follow-up surveys.
4.Formal surveys and how to organize data collected on marketing facilities.
5.The method for collecting information using simple surveys of marketing functionaries.
6.How to undertake a consumer survey.
7.Gender considerations.
8.The different techniques which can be used to present the survey results.


From the focus group discussions with producers outlined in Chapter 5 a basic understanding of the marketing system should have been obtained. It is important to start from this point, as producers are the ones who are likely to suffer most from present shortcomings in the marketing system, whether from a lack of market facilities, or poor transport linkages.

However, these discussions will be from the producer’s perspective and inevitably there will be gaps that will need to be filled by follow-up surveys. one of the main reasons for undertaking these follow-up surveys is that the growth of marketing systems is often haphazard and constantly evolving. often, peoples’ perception of marketing is based on previous and outmoded experience.

These surveys are not always needed if the results of making the surveys in Chapter 5 are completely clear. however, this is frequently not the case and further survey may be needed. Particularly valuable are surveys of traders and consumers.

Who will need to be interviewed?

After reviewing the relevant secondary literature the follow-up studies of the marketing channels will need to use rapid market appraisal and participatory techniques. These are likely to range from personal observations, interviews, formal surveys and focus group discussions. The surveys, interviews or focus group surveys will need to be undertaken with:

Finally, discussions need to be held with key personnel in government, nGos, municipalities, and private sectors to review the policy, legal, and institutional environment influencing agriculture produce marketing in the study area.

Tracing marketing linkages

Linkages and relationships among producers, wholesalers, and retailers play an important role in marketing fresh agricultural produce. These linkages and relationships may have both positive and negative effects. on the positive side, the establishment of linkages creates mutual trust among different marketing functionaries. Trust, in principle, reduces transaction cost and hence, leads to lower prices to consumers, and promotes growth and prosperity. on the negative side, the development of linkages and relationships may hamper the operation of market forces. for example, linkages might create dependency and a monopolistic relationship between the parties. If one party resorts to opportunistic behaviour in such a relationship, the other party may not really benefit from the relationship. The presence of such linkages may also make it difficult for a new entrant into business, causing imperfections in the market. To get some idea on these kinds of linkages and relationships, the traders need to be asked whether they have any linkages with other geographical areas or groups.

The need for credit and easing of uncertainty by ensuring a guaranteed market is usually the main motivations for developing linkages. Linkages are often based on village proximity (area based), political or religious affiliations, or on family relationships. for example, a trader may have a competitive edge in dealing with farmers from his or her area because they enjoy more trust, compared to traders from other areas. If farmers are asked whether they are compelled to sell products to traders in such relationships, they often say that they are not compelled but they would prefer to sell to the traders they know and maintain a relationship with them, unless the prices offered are too low.

Care should be taken that any outside intervention in agricultural marketing does not destroy the advantages created by the linkages. on the other hand, market imperfections and unfair competition caused by such linkages may need to be corrected.

Basic approach to follow-up surveys

The basic approach to tracing the marketing chain is to follow the marketing of some key crops through all the marketing channels. however, there are some difficulties in undertaking these follow-up surveys:


Formal survey is an invaluable tool in understanding marketing systems. however, these surveys are both costly to undertake and may place impossible burdens on an over-stretched and under-funded government department or local authority. The most useful formal surveys are individual market surveys, which can provide the basis for preparing a market inventory (see below).

On the basis of an analysis of markets it will be possible to put forward suggestions to enhance the efficiency of markets. one of the specific recommendations may be to make improvements to marketing infrastructure.

Other FAO manuals provide detailed methods for making physical/operational surveys of markets, traffic counts and origin/destination surveys (see Tracey-white, 1991, 1995 and 1999). however, for convenience of users of this guide some examples of produce movement survey formats for Internal produce flow and cordon surveys are also provided in Chapter 7 (forms 7.1and 7.2).


Poor marketing conditions

Poor conditions in markets are common. demand for stalls in many markets is high and stall space is often limited, thus the traders spill out on to adjacent streets (sometimes to avoid fee payments). Produce is frequently sold directly on the ground and exposed to the weather, resulting in high losses. facilities may be limited, with no market sheds and with no provision of water supply or latrines. These conditions also frequently exist in unimproved wholesale markets.

Main physical defects

The main defects of existing markets may include:

Social and managerial problems:

In addition to physical defects there are also likely to be problems with the management of facilities:

Making an inventory

An essential step in the process will, therefore, be to obtain a profile of each of the significant markets in the study area. from these profiles an inventory of market and retail centres can be built-up, which can provide the basis for preparing the market development programme. A possible format for compiling a market inventory is illustrated in form 6.1. An example of the sort of data that can be compiled from a market inventory survey is shown in Table 12, which relates the markets to the villages they serve, the size of catchment areas and the population density.

The inventory can be detailed by making estimates of throughput on a daily or weekly basis, using the format given in form 6.2, which can be used in rural areas.

markets in northwest Bangladesh

Zila/Greater districtType of Market/Htas (number)TotalVillages servedCatchmentDensity ('000 persons (km2)
Rural PrimaryAssembly/ SecondaryUrban # Terminal(no.)Area (Km2)radius (km)

# Comprising urban wholesale, wholesale-cum-retail and retail markets

Source: department of Agricultural marketing, dhaka

Estimated store and market throughput

 Root cropsVegetablesFruitsTotal
lb. per day per sampled stores279.52 040.6474.1 
lb. per day per all stores847.06 183.51 436.68 467
tons per year140.51 025.9238.31 405
% of total10%73%17%100%

Source: fAo Project TCP/PAL/2902

Form 6.3 shows a format that is more appropriate for recording the pattern of food marketing in urban areas.

The method can also be applied to any form of sales outlet, such as supermarkets or shops. Table 13 shows the presentation of the results of a sample survey of stores and markets in koror, the capital of Palau.

By asking about the origin of produce it is also possible to make some estimate of the flows along different routes serving local, regional or city markets.


A sample of buyers, collectors, transporters and traders will need to be interviewed using a structured questionnaire to examine and understand their roles in agricultural produce marketing. form 6.4 presents a format for these interviews. The same basic survey format can be used for interviewing any of these functionaries, which would allow a simpler analysis of the data and also make comparison between them easier. In any case, the distinction between these roles is often very unclear. for example, a local person may own a truck and agree to transport his or her neighbour’s produce to market on a sale or return basis. This person is, therefore, a producer, collector and transporter. The range of information that a survey of functionaries would need to collect is as follows:

(Information that is essential is indicated with *)

Interviews with market traders

A structured survey of traders such as that shown in form 6.4 will also need to be undertaken within markets in order to understand the functioning of the agricultural produce marketing system. Additional questions may need to be added to the survey format for interviewing wholesalers and traders in major markets.

In applying the survey a sample of persons to interview should be chosen randomly, based on the following criteria.

The types of results that can be obtained from the survey are shown in Table 14. This illustrates the range of produce handled by the two main types of purchasers: eight major buyers acting for supermarkets and institutional users (such as hospitals and schools) and 66 smaller traders and collectors who deliver to markets and shops.

Table 15 shows the results of the survey of 74 market functionaries analysed in Table 14, but this time highlighting from where they source the produce: at farmgate or from smaller markets. This table illustrates an oddity of marketing practice in Palau in that as there is no major market at present; institutional buyers find it easier to buy the majority of their fresh produce from “other” sources, particularly supermarkets.

Daily produce handled by traders, collectors and buyers (lb. per day)

 TaroOther rootsVegetablesFruitFishProcessed
Major buyers2211519245720
Traders collectors64103223697753842

Source: fAo Project TCP/PAL/2902

marketing channels used by traders, collectors and buyers to purchase produce

  Marketing channels: 
% at farmgate% from marktet traders% Other
Major buyers13.828.158.1
GRAND TOTAL56.823.819.4

Source: FAO Project TCP/PAL/2902

Interviews with transporters

Transporters will need to be interviewed if from other sources (such as the surveys of producers or traders) their role in marketing is found to be significant. The usual difficulty in interviewing transporters is that those involved with produce marketing are normally small-scale operators. They often “operate” their business from their vehicle and so tracking them down to undertake the survey can be time-consuming. The best approach is to obtain some names of transporters from the producers or to undertake the survey in the markets.

Another reason for interviewing transporters is to be able to check the transport cost element of marketing margin calculations. This can be a difficult exercise if any level of detail is needed. double-checking with a number of transporters will be essential to obtain reliable data.

Interviews with market operators

Managers of a sample of markets in the catchment area may also need to be interviewed in order to understand the operation of their markets. It is particularly important to interview managers of any urban wholesale market or major assembly markets.


The ultimate goal of any marketing system should be the satisfaction of consumers’ needs. higher levels of income and education of urban populations tends to lead to rapid growth in the demand for fruits, vegetables, meat and fish products. urban consumers are also becoming increasingly quality conscious. Consumer concerns may include environmental problems such as inappropriate and excessive use of pesticides, market cleanliness and unsuitable handling of the after-sale wastage of markets.

A simple consumer survey can be conducted to get some idea about the purchasing behaviour of urban consumers and the major problems and concerns of the consumers related to fresh produce marketing. form 6.5 presents a format for the survey. The types of issues the survey can establish are:

Table 16 presents typical responses from a survey that ranked the consumer’s decision making process. As the table shows, the majority of the consumers (82 percent) ranked quality first. health safety concerns were ranked second by a majority of consumers (67 percent). Price level, convenience, and transparency in price were ranked third, fourth, and fifth respectively. Although caution is needed in interpreting the results of a survey of this nature, it nevertheless in this case suggests that consumers were becoming quality conscious.


The suggested survey formats distinguish the gender of the respondents and allow for disaggregation of the survey results by gender. Table 17, for example, shows a sample of market sales comparing the average daily sales of female to male sellers.

Consumer preference in purchasing fruits and vegetables (% of respondents)

Most Important considerations?Rank 1Rank 2Rank 3Rank 4Rank 5
Price level2.5615.3853.8415.782.63
Quality (pesticide free)82.0510.255.1200
health and safety12.8266.6617.9410.525.26
Transparency in prices2.562.5610.2515.7871.05
No response4.874.874.877.317.31

Source: FAO/TCP/8921, Agricultural marketing in the kathmandu valley

Comparison of average daily sales by market functionaries (lb.)

 TaroOther root cropsVegetablesFruit

Source: fAo Project TCP/PAL/2902

However, this may not provide sufficient detail to enable interventions to be designed in a gender-sensitive manner. The most direct way to reflect gender considerations in marketing is through focus group discussions with women farmers, traders and consumers. The range of issues that might be considered in these discussions is:

The specific concerns of women necessitate them to be fully involved in the design process from the outset.


At the end of the survey and analysis process it is necessary to review all the survey results to see if some clear conclusions can be drawn and whether any further surveys may be needed. The survey may have highlighted very different marketing practices between crops, between different types of marketing channels, supply areas and between genders. for example, women may be found to be specialized in a particular crop, because of traditional roles in farming practices or because they have only limited access to appropriate transport facilities.

Synthesizing survey results

The first step in the overall assessment is to prepare a clear tabulated and written statement of the marketing situation. A simplified example for northwest Bangladesh is shown in Table 18. The conclusions that can be drawn from examining these data, for northwest Bangladesh, are as follows:

Example of market outlets (% of produce)

CropConsumed/giftedSoldof which:
Farm gatePrimary marketsAssembly markets
Spices and condiments29.9%70.1%1.5%12.7%85.8%
Summer vegetables19.1%80.1%5.3%20.6%74.0%
Winter vegetables16.1%83.9%61.1%28.4%65.5%

The producers in the region do not supply the total needs of the local population. Thus, some vegetables and fruits are purchased at Indian wholesale markets by wholesalers or their agents and are despatched to the northwest Region.

Group interview results

Another way of obtaining a clear picture of the marketing situation is to ask specific questions about proposals as part of the participatory surveys with producer groups or the questionnaire surveys with market functionaries and consumers.

Table 19 summarizes the results obtained from asking a wide spectrum of stakeholders their opinions on proposals for developing a new central market in Palau. The most commonly mentioned features by the survey participants are indicated with an asterisk (*). The presentation of the survey’s results distinguishes between features that would be expected in most market developments from those that are particular to the local cultural and climatic conditions. for example, the emphasis on “local” production is because of fears that imported produce would flood the market. Air conditioning is mentioned, as the main competitors to the market are the supermarkets, which offer better trading conditions. Some of the ideas conflict or are impractical (both operationally and because of cost) and compromise would need to be made in the final development of a project. Such compromises would need to be discussed with the stakeholders in order that some level of consensus is obtained. This design process is outlined Chapter 4.

Summary of group comments and ideas received during surveys

AspectNormal features“Palauan features”
Overall goalsConcentration on local produce*Only local producers - no access for foreigners
Management and operationsOperated by national government“Scheduled” market - restrict other outlets?
Management board, with 1–2 representative from each stateOpen 24 hours a day and 7 days a week
Introduction of grading/quality control*No government involvement
Open 2–3 times per weekComplete government control
% on price to pay for fuel and utilities* 
PromotionsLink with media to advertise produceEstablish marketing co-operative in each state
Agricultural information providedOne crop per community or group
Sales methods and Space allocationFirst come, first servedDirect "buy-out" (regardless of quality)*
No discrimination - no reserve spacesUniform prices for commodities*
Market divided by type of product*Each state allocated a designated section of market*
Use of “cashiers” (commission agents)
Physical layout of the marketFood court*Gas station - for fisherfolk
Fish marketSlaughter house for pigs
Extension service and training room
Office space and administration
Facilities within the marketFreezers and ice machines*Air conditioning
Sink with hot and cold water*Market to provide transport-vehicle and/or boat*
Shelves for productsFood preparation facilities, microwaves, etc.
Storage facilities* and trash bins


Form 6.1: Checklist for preparing preliminary market inventory

For each significant market in the area (i.e. more than 10 farmers or trader’s stalls handling agricultural produce) the following information should be collected:

Market identificationName and exact location of the market (mark location on base map) 
Responsible agenciesAgency or agencies (e.g. local government, private body, co-operative, etc.) responsible for market management 
Frequency of operationWhether the market opens daily, twice a week, once a week, etc. (record the days mentioned) 
Catchment area of marketNames of the villages served and their total populations 
 Names of villages or areas sending produce to the market 
Level of trade on peak dayNumber of permanent retail stallholders (selling fresh produce) 
 Number of farmers visiting the market to sell produce 
 Number of wholesaler, collector or assemblers purchasing at the market 
Physical facilitiesTotal area of market (square metres or hectares) 
Total number of fixed stalls by function (fish, meat, fruit, vegetables, charcoal, firewood, medicinal plants, etc.)
List of key facilities (roads and parking, water supply, toilers, refuse disposal, rice mills, extension office, etc.)

Form 6.2: estimating the throughput of markets and shops

(Note: one form is to be used for each facility and each row in the form is to be used for a single set of observation)

Name of Vendor/Hambler:                                              Reference code                          

Building Type: Shop/Supermarket/Market stall                                                                   

Date/time of survey:                        Name of surveyor:                       

CodeCommodities soldFarm of originVegetablesFruitsRoot cropsUnitWeightTotal weight

Form 6.3: Mapping of food markets and shops

(Note: each row in the form is to be used for a single set of observations of a single facility)

Map sheet reference no.  Name of surveyor  Survey Sheet number 
Name of metropolitan area     Date of Survey 

Reference codeHamlet or Ward NumberLocation nameType of sales areaCommodities sold (record volume sold per day/week if possible/Area m2Notes
Fixed shopSuper-marketStall (roofed)Stall (lockable)Open spaceFruit onlyVegetablesFruit & Veget.Fish onlyPoultry onlyMeat onlyMeat & PoultryMixed foods

Form 6.4: Interview survey with marketing functionaries

Market functionary's address/location in the market 
(mark location of stall and stall reference number on site plan)
Day of the week/date 
Name of interviewer 
1. What type of trade do you undertake and what type of stall do you operate? Wholesale or retail trade? m2
(open, roofed, enclosed/lockable + total area in m2, etc.)
2. What types of products do you trade on a typical day?1kg.$/kg.
(list type, the weight in kg. and average price per kg. or unit)2kg.$/kg.
3. How does this vary with the seasons? %dry season
(% decrease or increase in volume/weight of produce) %wet season
4. Do you come to the market every day and which is the peak day? days per week 
   peak day
5. Did you lease your stall and what is the lease length?  which year no. of years
6. How much did you pay to purchase or lease your stall?  $
7. How much do you pay each day/week/month to the market owner?Security per day/week/month$
 Cleaning per day/week/month$
 Other, per day/week/month$
8. how much do you spend on repairs/other costs per month? $
9. where do your products come from in the wet season?1%
(from which villages/district centres and, if possible, approx. %)2%
10. where do your products come from in the dry season?1%
(from which villages/district centres and, if possible, approx. %)2%
11. do you know what the types of persons you purchase from are?Farmer%
(if possible obtain a rough percentage)Transporter%
 Other trader/middleman%
 Other market%
12. do you know where most of your customers come from?1%
(from which villages/district centres and, if possible, approx. %)2%
13. do you have any other types of businesses other than the market?   
(list what they are and where they are located)  
14. do you have use of your own vehicle and, if so, what is it?  
15. do you own this vehicle or is it hired? 
16. what is the total load this vehicle can carry? kg.
17. do you also use the vehicle for marketing produce? 
(collecting from farmers or delivering products to customers) 
18. do you market any of your own produce? 
19. Are prices paid for produce at market less or more than other main markets? 
(% less or more) 
20. Are sale prices at the market less or more than producing area markets? 
(% less or more) 
21. do you employ any staff and, if so, how many? 
(% less or more) 
22. do you have any linkages with other areas or groups?Family linkage
(% less or more)Credit linkage
 Other (specify)

Form 6.5: Consumer surveys

Survey Location:
Enumerator's name and date of survey

1. Interviewee's home village and gender female
2. what is the size of your family or household?  
3. do you grow any food at home and what proportion is that of the total family eats?yes%
4. what proportion of your root crops do you buy from various outlets:Market
 Local shop/other%
5. what proportion of your vegetables do you buy from various outlets:Market%
 Local shop/other%
6. what proportion of your fruit do you buy from various outletsMarket%
 Local shop/other%
7. what proportion of your meat do you buy from various outletsMarket%
 Local shop/other%
8. what proportion of your fish do you buy from various outletsMarket%
 Local shop/other%
9. what type of transport do you normally use when visiting the market?Private car 
 Public bus 
10. do you park your private car at the market? Yes
11. do you make other trips when you go to market? Yes
12. what type of trips?Bank or credit facility? 
 Education or health? 
 Leisure trips? 
 Food shopping? 
 Non-food shopping? 

(Stress that the survey information is confidential and names and addresses are not revealed)

Chapter 7
Evaluating rural transport proposals

The final chapter evaluates how rural transport proposals can incorporate marketing issues:
1. It reviews the choice of methods that are conventionally used in evaluating rural transport proposals.
2. It makes recommendations on which of the evaluation methods are most appropriate to take account of the benefits to marketing.
3. It outlines the criteria that might be adopted in selecting roads for improvement.
4. It outlines an alternative approach to quantifying and understanding rural access, including access to markets.


Agricultural planners are frequently involved with advising whether road improvements are likely to have an impact on the marketing of produce. In order that their advice can be most effective in promoting market linkages it is useful for them to understand how rural road programmes are evaluated. The three main purposes of road improvements should be to:

However, many of the benefits from rural road improvements are difficult to quantify and this leads to difficulties in selecting a user-friendly, appropriate, inexpensive and transparent assessment method. The most commonly used methods are (i) sufficiency or adequacy rating, (ii) conventional economic cost-benefit analysis, and (iii) screening and ranking techniques. These methods are outlined below and more details of the techniques are given in documents listed in the further Reading section at the end of the guide.

Sufficiency or adequacy ratings

This is a weighing technique, applicable only for road improvements. It takes account of the structural adequacy of the road construction, safety and service factors, such as alignment, passing distance and ride quality of the surfacing. It does not take any direct attention to the road’s function. Sufficiency rating, is a purely engineering technique, which does not incorporate costs and uses subjective values for the weightings. It is not a technique generally applicable in rural road planning, although it may be used to evaluate alternative technical solutions for surfacing the same length of road.

Conventional economic cost-benefit analysis

This method is applied either by quantifying the road user benefits (“consumer surplus” approach) or the increased agricultural output (“producer surplus” approach).

Of the two cost benefit techniques, the consumer surplus approach is likely to be the more useful for assessing rural roads.

Screening and ranking techniques

This method uses a needs-led approach to develop a compound ranking system, concentrating on access factors, rather than the construction of roads. The method assigns points and weights to explicitly include multiple non-economic equity and social criteria and to target local concerns. however, with this technique there are always problems in the interpretation of the criteria used for the weightings. Refinements to the technique can be made by using statistical techniques (e.g. regression analysis) to define the weighting and by incorporating cost-effectiveness criteria, such as least cost per population served. multi-criteria ranking systems are often the most appropriate technique as they recognize a wider range of socially based road-user benefits than traditional cost-benefit analysis:

An example of the technique, as applied to rural roads in flores by the Swissfinanced project “Low Cost Road Construction in Indonesia” is shown in Box 13.

This use of ranking and screening methods has led to the development of decentralized participatory planning approaches, such as “rural accessibility planning”, which is described later in the chapter.


The generally accepted view is that rural roads with an average daily traffic (AdT) of less than 50 motorized vehicles per day are not suitable for applying standard costbenefit analysis techniques. Assessments by the world Bank tend to indicate that increases in vehicle flows and projected agricultural output are often exaggerated (in Thailand, for example, only a third of trips on feeder roads are agriculturally-related). Thus, unless the road density is very low, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that the extension of rural roads in existing populated areas has little impact on the production and marketing of agricultural products. This argument does not apply in the case of unpopulated and previously inaccessible areas - where the opening-up from a new road can have a major impact. however, the impact of road improvements on increasing the delivery and quality of other services, such as health and education, is highly significant and often underestimated.

Box 13
Road ranking using points system
-Zone of influence of road (actual and potential agricultural production and population)
-Maximum 30 points.
-Degree of isolation of community - maximum 15 points.
-Demand for traffic services (expected traffic volumes and generated traffic) - maximum 10 points.
-Synergy effect (existing and planned projects) - maximum 5 points.
-Presence of local initiatives (intent and level of participation) - maximum 20 points.
-Government implementation priorities - maximum 10 points.
-Technical feasibility and construction costs - maximum 10 points.

Box 14
Choice of an assessment technique
Secondary roads: full “traditional:” economic cost-benefit analysis technique, undertaken by specialized consultants.
Tertiary roads with traffic levels of >50 AdT: standard economic cost-benefit analysis technique - using a modified consumer surplus approach, combined with accessibility procedure for initial screening of alternatives.
Specialized “economic” roads serving high-production agricultural or forestry areas: standard economic cost-benefit analysis technique - using farm household-level surveys (or industry data) and the producer surplus approach, combined if possible with accessibility procedure for the initial screening of alternatives.
Local roads with traffic levels of <50 ADT: multi-criterion ranking system and costeffectiveness technique, emphasizing non-economic objectives and the targeting the needs of special activities or groups.

Assessment technique choice:

An overall approach to choosing an assessment method is shown in Box 14.

Produce movement surveys:

Some of the survey methods that could be used to provide useful information on the relationship between marketing and transport are given in form 7. 1 (cordon surveys) and form 7.2 (internal produce movement surveys).


The application of road accessibility criteria forms an essential part of the regional planning framework that should be used in the process of selecting markets, as discussed in Chapter 4. If the road network is of a uniform standard then the condition of the access is not a critical factor. however, in most cases this is unlikely and the condition of the road system will need to be considered.

The staring point for ensuring that the market-related roads meet basic design criteria are the road authority’s network strategies and road management plans for the district or region. The road authority should have collected information on the current status of the roads - whether they are passable or impassable at certain times of the year and their maintainable condition. These data are used to determine the construction costs for road improvements. however, where road condition surveys are not available to permit detailed costs to be estimated, average estimates will need to be used (e.g. low, medium or high cost estimates, depending on terrain and surfacing haulage distances). These data may be supplemented with information on level of traffic flows, types of transport modes and on the origin and destination of the traffic using the road. what the road authority should be able to provide is (i) whether the candidate roads for improvement comply with a district or region’s road maintenance and rehabilitation strategies and (ii) the cost of upgrading or maintaining the road link (if this is found necessary).

To select an appropriate level of maintenance, spot improvement, culvert rehabilitation or road upgrading it will be necessary to consider the “level of service” expected from the improved road. Broadly, there are three levels of service used in rural road design:

To achieve “full access” it will be necessary to rehabilitate selected roads up to accessibility level so they are passable all year round in comfort at acceptable average speed broadly equivalent to IRI 7 (International Roughness Index). “Partial access” broadly corresponds with being difficult but passable all year round and “basic access” with being passable all year round except for structures, and the need for drainage or other spot improvements in places. To achieve basic access the roads should offer some level of passability in the dry season but may often be inaccessible or difficult for most vehicles, possibly excluding four-wheel drive vehicles for some periods of time in the wet season.


Integrated Rural Accessibility Planning (IRAP) is a local level-planning tool, developed by the International Labour organisation (ILo), which can be used to supplement the selection and assessment methods described above. It approaches the issue of infrastructure provision through the concept of accessibility. The technique is a simple and easily applied method designed for use at local level to analyse the access of rural villages to basic minimum needs, for example to markets and social services. It does this by assessing the difficulty in accessing these facilities. data is collected through a participatory planning process that results in the development of local area plans, which priorities investments, and includes cost estimates for both maintenance and construction.

Data gathering is started at a local level workshop that usually takes 1.5 to 2 days. The team goes to the field with prepared base maps showing transport routes and other infrastructure. The maps can be prepared manually or using GIS. The team generally limits its collection of data to information on “accessibility” for each village to the following types of facilities: transport; potable water; health facilities; education facilities; access to employment opportunities; and market facilities. key informants normally provide data at the commune workshop and these include village chiefs; school principals and teachers; local nGo representatives; local grassroots organization representatives; and women's groups.

To undertake this type of analysis IRAP has evolved a set of indicators - combining the data collected on each sector into a single figure representing the “accessibility level” to the sectoral service for each village in a commune. By comparing these indicators it is possible for both planners and communities to understand the difference in the level of service provision.

The IRAP tool derives these “accessibility indicators” at local workshops with the villagers. The villagers are asked to estimate the time taken to reach a given facility (or service). The difference in the values for each village being the sum of travel times to these facilities (such as schools or markets) multiplied by the village population. The method can be refined by taking account of the frequency of trips to the facility and by incorporating the maximum acceptable travel time (based on a nationally determined “basic minimum need” standard).

The general form of the accessibility index equation is shown in Box 15. The basic needs or requirements standards usually relate to the population required for supporting the services or facilities. This is customarily expressed as either the population served or it can be defined in per capita terms (“x” number of facilities per person). In some cases, the level of service is defined by the type of settlement in which it is expected to be located (such as a main market in a district centre). Alternatively, as in the equation in Box 16, the standard could be expressed by distance, such as the maximum walking distance to a roadside collection point.

Alternatively, the accessibility data can be presented simply in an unaltered “raw” form to allow direct comparisons between the total number of trips, the total “time lost” or the average time per trip. The most obvious application of the technique is in the planning of rural road networks. The methodology can be used to develop priorities in the selection of roads that would most effectively serve marketing needs and is complementary to and can be used in parallel with economic analysis techniques.

Table 20 shows an example of such an analysis, which is the results of an accessibility survey of rural road improvements in Cambodia A total of 27 different lengths of road were surveyed, involving discussions with the communities through which the road passed and with 139 road users. Accessibility to four types of facilities were assessed and to food markets, for example, this showed an average reduction in the journey time to market of 33 minutes, a reduction in public transport fares and an increased number of 4.4 visits to market per month.

Box 15
Calculating an accessibility index
AI = n (T-Tm) f
Where: AI =Accessibility index for particular facility
N = Number of households in the village
Tm = Average travel time (in minutes)
Tm = maximum acceptable travel time
F = Frequency of travel

TABLE 20Benefits to road users after improvement

 To food marketTo pagodsTo schoolTo health centre
Journey time reductions in minutes-33 minutes-8.9 minutes-2.9 minutes-24.4 minutes
Journey fare reductions in Riel-1,100-127-180-643
Monthly trips made to facility+4.4+1.2+2.5+1.1

Intech Associates/Center for Advanced Study (2001). Study into the Socio-economic Impact of the Local Development fund/Local Planning Process 1996–2000


Form 7.1: Cordon survey form

(Note: each row in the form is to be used for a single set of observations i.e. an entry or exit of a vehicle)

Day of the week       Date 
Name of enumerator       In or outboud 
Survey cordon location       Sheet no. 
Reference codeTime of entry or exitVehicle type (code)vehicle registration numberOrigin of of vehicleVehicle destinationVehicle Load (tons)Main commodity on vehicleHow often o you go to the market?Type of market user
Urban entreStudy areaelsewherefarmerTransporterBuyer

Classification of vehicle types:Classification of Products:
1 -motorcycle1 -Fresh vegetables (beans, tomatoes, etc.)
2-power-tiller2-Roots, pulses and tubers (ginger
3-tractor-trailer3-Onions and garlic
5-bicycle, with side basket5-Green, leafy vegetables
6-car6-Tropical fruit (bananas, papaya, etc.)
7-pick-up7-Winter fruit (including imports)
8-light truck (max 2 tons)8-Fresh fish
9-medium truck (+/- 6 tons)9-dDried and smoked fish
10-large truck (+ 10 tons)10-Poultry (live)
11 -bus or mini-bus11 -meat (live)
12-oxcart or donkey cart12-Other household items
13-handcart13-Construction materials
14-pedestrian with basket14-Forest products
15-pedestrian headload15.Firewood and charcoal
16-other16-Other (define)

Form 7.2: Internal produce movement survey form

Note: each row in the form is to be used for a single set of observation i.e. an entry or exit of a vehicle (representing a single database “record”)

Name of enumerator      
Name of market   Sheet no. 

Reference codeTime of exitVehicle type (code)Vehicle Registration numberDestination of trip (place)Destination of vehicle (specify)Vehicle load (tons)Main commodity on vehicleHow often visit marketType of market user
Wholesale marketOther in Study areaElsewhereRetailerTransporterBuyer or agent

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