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The agricultural sector, including smallholder farmers, continues to be the backbone of African economies. Yet, African smallholder farmers confront a number of obstacles, including restricted access to markets, which has a negative impact on their emotional well-being. Frustration, worry, and sadness result when smallholder farmers are unable to sell their crops, make a living, and invest in their farms due to a lack of market access.

Reasons smallholder farmers have trouble accessing markets

In Africa, smallholder farmers often have trouble reaching local, regional, and even global markets for a variety of reasons. First, farmers face severe delays, spoilage, and losses due to inadequate infrastructure, such as bad roads, inadequate storage facilities, and limited transport networks. Second, farmers aren’t able to make profitable judgements about what to plant and where to sell it because they have insufficient information and knowledge about market demand and pricing. Thirdly, farmers’ inability to invest in their fields, increase production, and get access to markets due to a lack of financial support and limited access to finance contributes to their frustration and loss of hope.

Mental illnesses as a result of inadequate access to markets

African smallholder farmers’ emotional well-being is suffering as a result of inadequate access to markets. There is a lot of pressure on farmers who rely on agriculture for their livelihood to maximise production, maximise sales, and maximise profits. Yet, farmers experience major hurdles in reaching their goals due to a lack of access to markets, which can cause them to feel depressed, anxious, and stressed. A farmer’s drive, confidence, and sense of self-worth can all take a hit when their livelihood is threatened, as is the case when crops fail or when losses are incurred due to spoilage.

Farmers who put in the work and resources only to be met with oversupply, low prices, and a lack of market access are understandably disheartened. Negative emotions like worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness can have a devastating effect on someone’s mental health.

More reasons that contribute to a negative mental wellbeing of small holder farmers

If farmers can’t sell their goods, they have less incentive to participate in community activities, increasing their risk of feeling lonely and isolated. Because of this, many farmers experience depression and anxiety as they become increasingly isolated from their social networks. Farmers who can’t sell their crops and make money may have trouble meeting their basic needs, like food, shelter, and medical care. Farmers’ stress levels may rise as they fret about their livelihoods and the security of their families.