Knowing how to bring food to the market: Appreciating the contribution of intermediary traders to the future of food availability in Sub-Saharan Africa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The global food security agenda emphasizes increased production in agriculture to ensure availability of food. This chapter shifts attention away from a purely production-based solution, to what happens after production, namely making food available via different trade channels. Our argument challenges two binary thought lines underlying intervention strategies and policies adopting a market-led approach towards food availability in the Sub-Saharan African context. Firstly, the informal nature of commercial transactions is considered to hinder provision of food in rural and urban markets; forging contracts and formalization are proposed as antidote. Secondly, constrained availability of food is related to imperfections and institutional voids that can be addressed by inducing novel arrangements and promoting collective marketing via cooperatives. The consequences of both strategies are shortened agri-food chains and exclusion of skillful practices of intermediary traders. Case studies from Mali and Uganda contrast this by highlighting assets, skills, and capabilities of intermediary traders sourcing from farmers in remote areas and linking them to urban and rural food markets. The stability and long-term presence of such traders signifies proven capacity to handle changing and harsh conditions. This forms the starting point for our innovative solution for food security: organizing skill-based education with the aim to transform food trade into an attractive and recognized profession. Recognizing and appreciating the skills and capabilities of those involved in trading also enhances transparency and predictability of the marketplace, and thus changes the way linkages between consumers, traders, and farmers are organized.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainable Food Futures – Multidisciplinary Solutions
EditorsJessica Duncan, Megan Bailey
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter9
Pages119-132
ISBN (Electronic)9781315463131
ISBN (Print)9781138206168
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

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