Purpose: Agricultural e-commerce can assist in overcoming notable challenges and inefficiencies in the agriculture supply chain especially in developing countries. The aim of the study is to identify barriers to sustaining and further developing an E-marketplace in the agricultural sector in Sri Lanka.
Design: An exploratory qualitative research approach was used to provide an in-depth overview of adopting and sustaining an e-marketplace. Data collection was carried out using semi-structured individual interviews amongst mass producers and buyers of fruits and vegetables as well as an e-marketplace developing institution in Sri Lanka. As this is a qualitative study, non-probability sampling techniques were used. Sample for mass producers was selected using the snowball sampling approach. Criterion sampling approach was used for the selection of bulk buyers of fruits and vegetables and the e-marketplace developing institutions. Thematic analysis was employed.
Findings: The study found that while farmers and buyers both expressed an interest in joining an e-marketplace in the future, they had expectations that must be fulfilled to do so. Unawareness about its existence and the processes behind an e-marketplace was a major barrier common to both farmers and buyers. Further, both farmers and buyers were satisfied with their current process and therefore felt no need for an alternative and therefore would not join an e-marketplace unless that process is supported to an extent. Further, quality, transportation, certifications, and low mobile phone signal were considered major concerns and barriers. Developers face difficulty in acquiring necessary funding to invest in sustaining and further developing the platform. They also believe the absence of a method to guarantee quality and to resolve problems between participants requires an immediate solution. Further, as majority of the farming community is technologically illiterate, developers must account for this issue when developing the platform.
Research Implications: The findings of this study provide valuable knowledge necessary to increase the farmers’ and buyers’ adoption of an e-marketplace in agriculture which has been named as a high priority solution, by the Department of Agriculture in Sri Lanka, to solve the agricultural problems currently being faced.
Originality: The literature scores in developing context are limited to exploring the e-marketplace adoption in the agriculture sector. This study has deepened the authors’ understanding by investigating farmers’ and buyers’ perspective on the adoption of an e-marketplace for agriculture.