Patience Samhutsa


Patience is a Market Systems Specialist within Practical Action’s Markets Programme and has more than 10 years of professional experience in using the participatory market systems development (PMSD) approach in agriculture, energy and Non Timber Forest Based Products (NTFPs). Her specific experience in the three sectors has been in agriculture - oil seed crops, cereals, horticulture and livestock; energy - biomass, biogas, mini hydro projects sectors and national grid expansion programmes; and NTFPs - honey, mushrooms, marula, and mopane worms. She has been involved in institutional capacity building for government institutions, and CSOs in using the market based approach and experienced in private sector engagements. Countries of experience are Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Sudan and Kenya. She is a holder of an Executive Masters in Business Administration and BSc in Agriculture and Natural Resources from Africa University.

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Posts by Patience

  • Market mapping and analysis of horticultural market systems in Manicaland Province

    February 11th, 2015

    Practical Action Consulting Southern Africa is carrying out a detailed market systems analysis for the Horticultural Sector in Manicaland Province of Zimbabwe. The analysis will investigate the market blockages and identify opportunities for upgrading the horticultural market systems in Manicaland Province. To facilitate this process Practical Action is using a Participatory Market Systems Development approach to develop the horticultural market systems in Manicaland which creates good conditions for a wide range of key market actors (both public and private) to create solutions and changes that make sense to them and that contribute to making their market systems more inclusive, productive and efficient.

    24598To get an understanding of the issues affecting the horticultural sub-sector, a market mapping and analysis exercise was facilitated in Manicaland Province (Mutare District) from 27 to 30 January 2015. This exercise was instrumental in establishing the potential blockages or bottlenecks, identifying the current market actors in the sub-sector, also getting their views on how they can play a part in addressing the identified blockages available for transforming the horticultural market systems in Manicaland Province.

    The interest from various stakeholders included the following; better prices through good relationships amongst all market actors, improved market linkages hence increased incomes, providing smallholder farmers with the required inputs, stakeholder coordination and interactions, market systems transformations, farming practiced as a business, provision of market led agricultural extension services, value added horticultural products and buying commodities from smallholder farmers.

    The market mapping and analysis attracted participation from stakeholders which included smallholder farmers from irrigation schemes around Manicaland, Sakubva market vegetable traders, CAIRNS Foods, local agro-dealers (Windmill, Shalom Agro chemicals, Seed Ridge), Standard Association of Zimbabwe, Non-Governmental Organizations representatives (Netherlands Development Organisation, Practical Action, Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe), Micro Finance Institutions (Zambuko Trust) and government representatives (AGRITEX, Mutare Rural District Council and Ministry of Small to Medium Enterprises and Cooperatives Development).

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  • Enhancing equality in energy access through mobilising women in low income areas

    October 22nd, 2014

    How can electrical connections and electricity consumption be increased among poor people, particularly women who cannot afford the cost of getting connected?

    This has been a major question for government departments or parastatals or independent power producers who want to expand grid connections to poor people with very little disposable incomes. The concern about support for rural electrical line extensions in low-income areas with low population density is the lack of sufficient customer load to pay even for operational costs, let alone capital costs. On the other hand low consumption of electricity undermines the profitability of these institutions and sustainability of the utility.


    Though electricity can have benefits such as lighting, charging, television, refrigeration, agro-processing etc., the reality is that these rural communities are left with no dreams of ever getting connected in their lives. This however can be a cause for inequality in enhancing energy access denying communities their right to energy. I will leave this as an open question subject and as an issue for discussion.

    Some projects have tried to address this inequality in Macomia District (Cabo Delgado Province of Mozambique) by increasing rural households’ connections and consumption of electricity from the national grid for productive use. The focus has been to increase awareness of electricity benefits for rural communities, particularly women, by demonstrating various energy equipment, gadgets and household appliances to women and showing their time and labor-saving benefits.


    The women community workers undergo capacity building sessions and motivational lessons (in the form of videos or exchange visits) to give them the skills and knowledge they need to set up and run viable businesses using electricity. Once communities had graduated from the training and mentoring sessions they will linked to financial institutions or institutions that had the ability to give them capital to get connected and start businesses in the form of loans or grants.

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  • Can subsistence farmers turn into commercial farmers?

    October 16th, 2014

    If nothing is done, it can be a major cause for inequality in accessing markets

    Smallholder farming households in Zimbabwe, like most in Sub-Saharan Africa, are largely subsistence farmers.  They grow just enough to eat.  The subsistence mind-set means they rarely invest in production and marketing which means a year-in year-out struggle in poverty.

    If they do produce enough to sell, they face a number of challenges in accessing lucrative markets (agro-processors, wholesalers, and retailers).  They are poorly coordinated among themselves which makes them weak players in the market, with negligible bargaining power.  The volume and quality of their produce is inconsistent. They pay more than ‘the big guys’ for inputs, transportation and finance. This is worse because they live in remote areas with poor road networks, telecommunications infrastructure, no reliable energy sources, poor agro-dealer networks and limited agricultural extension support services. Smallholder farmers need to be knowledgeable and well-organised to plan their production schedules to meet the requirements of existing crop and livestock markets.

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    This is easier said than done.  The implementation processes of projects need to focus on improving the knowledge of these subsistence farmers about the markets they want to engage with, increase their confidence to interact with other strategic actors (e.g. buyers, service providers and policy-makers) and ability to articulate and communicate their situation, problems and potential to others.   This will lead to greater equality in accessing markets.

    Conditions to enhance dialogue, accountability and learning between the smallholder farmers and their peers should also be created. There is need to strike a good balance between market growth and the potential of marginalised producers to compete in the market especially those that start from subsistence levels. This is essential for effective market development facilitation.

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    Lastly subsistence farmers need market literacy support to enable them to assess both market growth trends (i.e. how demand is changing through time) and shift the mindset towards farming as a business.

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