Markets and trust in Zambia

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Thulasy B, an aid worker in Zambia, discovers the importance of trust. Working for Engineers Without Borders, she discusses the difficulties of building markets for small farm holders:

Functional markets are built on trust. Think about it: You implicitly trust that you’ll get the perfect non-fat, extra-hot, half-sweet venti chai latte from the stranger behind the counter mere seconds after you order it (at least I do). The barista, in turn, trusts that you will front the cash before you indulge in your afternoon pick-me-up.

Small holder farmers, however, have never been able to trust seed suppliers to offer reliable products and services, and vegetable buyers have never been able to trust small holders to supply a reasonable quantity and quality of produce. There is zero institutional trust...

Luckily, field staff are excellent trust builders, particularly with farmers. But the role of field staff is changing. They’re responsible for more than just the farmers. They’re responsible for transforming the tenuous (or oft-times non-existent) relationships between farmers and private sector actors (like seed suppliers and vegetable buyers) into healthy, mutually beneficial ones...

As a bonus, check out some excellent photos of Namibian desert.


Ryan Hahn

Operations Officer

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