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Market based humanitarian assistance delivery options include cash transfer and voucher systems. These options require the role of private traders to meet the beneficiaries’ demand. In this regard, the study investigated the readiness of the private traders to effectively participate in such systems. The investigations involved asking trading whether they have ever sold food commodities on credit or vouchers, and whether the traders would accept to sell food commodities using vouchers or not.

11.1 Sales on Credit

To understand the traders’ sales patterns, the study inquired whether the traders have ever sold their commodities on credit. Tables 11.1 and 11.2 provide the summary of the responses obtained.

Table 11.1: Food commodity traders’ response on the sale on credit

Frequency Percentage (%)

Yes 326 36.7

No 563 63.3

Total 889 100.0

According to Table 11.2, 563 out of 889 traders (63%) of the traders indicated that they do not sell their commodities on credit. This is understandable considering that most traders considering the access to capital constraints they face, hence always operating under instant cash marketing policy. This notwithstanding, in the spirit of customer sustainability in the context of market competition, 37% of the respondents indicated to be selling on credit to their customers.

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Sales on credit are sometimes between big and small traders, an arrangement in which big traders provide food commodities to smaller traders (known as mponda in local language). Terms and conditions for big-small trader credit arrangements vary from place to place.

Further inquires were made on the extent of the food commodity sales on credit by asking the traders on the value of their credit sales during the past month. Table A.4 in the Annex explains.

According to Table A.4, the mean value of credit sales are about MK40,000 with the maximum going as far as MK1,350,000. This, therefore, reflects the trust that the parties involved have for each other in this credit sales arrangement.

11.2 Sales using Vouchers

Further to credit sales, the study investigated the food commodity traders’ knowledge on vouchers, and their personal experience on the same. Figure 11.1 provides a summary of the traders’ responses.

9, 1%

892, 99%

where trader has ever sold to consumers with vouchers

Figure 11.1: Whether trader has ever sold Maize commodity using cash vouchers

Figure 11.1 shows that 99 percent of the traders (892 of the total sample of 901) have never sold to customers by voucher. This shows that the voucher subsystem is yet to become a popular food assistance delivery mechanism in the country, and any actions to use the system has to involve careful planning approach with significant sensitization of the trader participants.

11.3 Acceptability of Cash Vouchers

The study further inquired on whether the traders would accept the voucher system or not and the reasons for their position on the issue. Tables 11.4 and 11.5 below have the details.

Table 11.4: Whether the trader accept to sell commodities using cash vouchers or not

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Frequency Percentage (%)

Yes 499 60.7

No 323 39.3

Total 822 100.0

Table 11.4 shows that despite the fact that few traders have ever participated in voucher sales, about 61% of them are willing experiment with the arrangement. This, therefore, voucher systems, though not yet popular with traders, cannot be completely ruled out in the humanitarian assistance delivery mechanisms.

For those that cannot accept the voucher system, the study inquired on the reasons for their position. Figure 11.2 provides a recording of responses.

35.2

Figure 11.2: Reasons for not accepting the voucher system From Figure 11.2, it is apparent that lack of knowledge on how the voucher systems was the major reason for saying no to the system, and this also explains responses relating to vouchers being untrustworthy. The other equally important reasons include: the need for immediate cash since voucher redemption may take time, while others are simply afraid of the procedures that may be involved.

In any case, the findings in Figure 11.2 confirm the earlier finding that a serious introduction of a voucher system would require awareness campaigns involving concerned traders.

11.4 Options for Delivery of 2015/16 Humanitarian Assistance

Analyses of private trader selling practices together with trader capacities in the previous chapters provides useful information for humanitarian assistance delivery options to the 2015/16 disaster affected populace. To this effect, based on the assessment of private trader capacity, physical accessibility of markets, stock replenishment and storage

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capacity, market structures, and traded volumes, the study has made TA specific humanitarian assistance delivery options.

The humanitarian assistance recommendations are in Volume 2 of the Study, which largely comprises a Matrix of Recommendations for each TA. The summary of the recommendations is in Table A.5 in the Annex which is summarized into Table 11.5 below:

Table 11.5: Summary distribution of affected population by region and Humanitarian Response Option

Region Total CASH Percent FOOD Percent

North 390,515 135,095 35% 255,420 65%

Centre 727,381 512,719 70% 214,662 30%

South 1,715,320 235,121 14% 1,480,199 86%

Grand Total 2,833,216 882,935 31% 1,950,281 69%

Table 11.5 shows that 31% of the total disaster affected populations should be provided with humanitarian assistance through cash transfer mechanism, while 69 % should be provided with in-kind food assistance. The lower proportion on cash transfer is largely due to the limited market (private sector) capacity to serve the food insecure households as explained in the analyses above.

11.5 Summary of Findings on Mode of Food Commodity Sales

Most private traders (63%) do not sell their food commodities on credit. While many factors explain the traders cash marketing strategy, immediate cash needs for most food commodity traders is the major reason for avoiding credit sales. However, the few other traders are compelled to sell on credit as part of their marketing strategy to maintain customers in light of market competition. Credit sales arrangements sometimes take place between big and small traders, with varying terms and conditions which are beneficial to both parties.

On use of the vouchers, the study finds very limited private traders participation as evidenced by the fact that only 1 percent of the sampled traders indicated to have ever participated in such an arrangement. Interestingly, however, when asked whether they are willing to participate in a voucher system, 67% of the traders indicated willingness to

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participate. In any case, the study findings that there is need for effective sensitization of the voucher systems if it is to be adopted as serious humanitarian assistance delivery option in Malawi.