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The Symbiotic Food System: An ‘Alternative’ Agri-Food System Already Working at Scale

Author

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  • Marc C. A. Wegerif

    () (Rural Sociology Group and Sociology of Development and Change Group, Wageningen University, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands
    Institute for Development Studies, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

  • Paul Hebinck

    () (Sociology of Development and Change Group, Wageningen University, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands
    Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension. University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa)

Abstract

This article is an analysis of the agri-food system that feeds most of the over four million residents of the fast growing city of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. It is based on qualitative research that has traced the sources of some important foods from urban eaters back through retailers, processors and transporters to the primary producers. Particular attention is given to the functioning of the market places and how new actors enter into the food system. These reveal that more important to the system than competition are various forms of collaboration. Of particular interest is how a wide range of small-scale and interdependent actors produce the food and get it to urban eaters at a city feeding scale without large vertically- or horizontally-integrated corporate structures. This “symbiotic food system” is an existing alternative to the corporate-dominated agri-business food system; it can and does deliver at scale and in a way that better responds to the needs of people in poverty who are buying food and the interests of food producers. It is not perfect in Dar es Salaam, but the food system is working and is a model that should be built on.

Suggested Citation

  • Marc C. A. Wegerif & Paul Hebinck, 2016. "The Symbiotic Food System: An ‘Alternative’ Agri-Food System Already Working at Scale," Agriculture, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(3), pages 1-25, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jagris:v:6:y:2016:i:3:p:40-:d:76659
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Henk Renting & Terry K Marsden & Jo Banks, 2003. "Understanding Alternative Food Networks: Exploring the Role of Short Food Supply Chains in Rural Development," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 35(3), pages 393-411, March.
    2. Henk Renting & Terry K Marsden & Jo Banks, 2003. "Understanding alternative food networks: exploring the role of short food supply chains in rural development," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 35(3), pages 393-411, March.
    3. Beckert, Jens, 2007. "The social order of markets," MPIfG Discussion Paper 07/15, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    4. Deborah Potts, 2008. "The urban informal sector in sub-Saharan Africa: from bad to good (and back again?)," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(2), pages 151-167.
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    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:6:p:1081-:d:102124 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    food; food system; symbiotic food system; markets; agriculture; cultural repertoires; ethnography; Tanzania;

    JEL classification:

    • Q1 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture
    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General
    • Q11 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Aggregate Supply and Demand Analysis; Prices
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets
    • Q13 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Markets and Marketing; Cooperatives; Agribusiness
    • Q14 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Finance
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • Q16 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services
    • Q17 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agriculture in International Trade
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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