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Nutrition and the commoditization of food in Sub-Saharan Africa


  • Bryceson, Deborah Fahy


During the past decade, Africa, more than any other continent, has been associated with famine and malnutrition. The Sahelian drought of the early 1970s, the Wollo and Karamoja famines and most recently, mass starvation in Ethiopia, have followed one another in rapid succession. The term 'food crisis' continually crops up in the popular and academic press. An increasing number of researchers probe possible causes; many seek a systemic reason for the present situation. One working hypothesis is that increasing commoditization of food has undermined Africa's food systems. This paper does not purport to prove or disprove this. Less ambitiously, its aim is to draw attention to inter-relationships between commoditization and physical and social aspects of African food systems, tracing their possible effects on the nutritional status of the African population. In so doing, some of the complexities of developing food production and consumption in the transition from peasant societies to more urban-based national economies become evident. The paper is divided into three main parts: a discussion of conceptual categories and general background information about sub-Saharan African food zones and commodity and factor markets; a review of literature on rural food availability and nutrition; and a review of urban food availability and nutrition.

Suggested Citation

  • Bryceson, Deborah Fahy, 1989. "Nutrition and the commoditization of food in Sub-Saharan Africa," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 425-440, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:28:y:1989:i:5:p:425-440

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Temin, Peter, 1983. "Costs and benefits in switching drugs from Rx to OTC," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 187-205, December.
    2. Foster, S. D., 1990. "Improving the supply and use of essential drugs in sub-Saharan Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 456, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Moradi, Alexander & Baten, Joerg, 2005. "Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa: New Data and New Insights from Anthropometric Estimates," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1233-1265, August.
    2. Pearce, Tola Olu. & Ruigu, George., 1995. "The impact of HIV/AIDS on the productive labour force in Africa," ILO Working Papers 993525843402676, International Labour Organization.
    3. repec:ilo:ilowps:352584 is not listed on IDEAS

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    nutrition Africa commoditization;


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