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Modernizing Africa’s Fresh Produce Supply Chains without Rapid Supermarket Takeover: Towards a Definition of Research and Investment Priorities

Listed author(s):
  • Tschirley, David L.
  • Ayieko, Miltone W.
  • Hichaambwa, Munguzwe
  • Goeb, Joey
  • Loescher, Wayne

After a burst of enthusiasm through the middle part of this decade regarding the supermarket revolution, there now exists a broad consensus that this phenomenon is likely to proceed much more slowly than once thought in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is especially true in fresh produce supply chains, where both the promise and the perils of supermarket expansion have received greatest attention. In nearly the entire continent, the so-called traditional marketing sector – open air markets, dispersed informal vendors, and traditional shops – is expected to play a dominant role in fresh produce marketing for several decades. If true, this finding has profound policy implications. Specifically, it suggests that private investment in modern, integrated supply chains cannot be relied upon to solve the multitude of problems that increasingly plague these traditional production and marketing systems over a time frame acceptable to most policy makers and donors. Public engagement, preferably through meaningful public-private partnerships and an accompanying re-definition of public and private roles, will be central to improving these systems. This paper first reviews the evolution of thinking on the supermarket revolution in Africa and presents empirical evidence from Kenya and Zambia. It then lays out a set of stylized facts and key gaps in knowledge regarding traditional fresh produce production and marketing sectors on the continent, and closes by outlining priorities for research and for public and private investment to modernize these systems in the absence of rapid supermarket takeover.

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Paper provided by Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics in its series Food Security International Development Working Papers with number 93030.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
Handle: RePEc:ags:midiwp:93030
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  1. David Neven & Thomas Reardon, 2004. "The Rise of Kenyan Supermarkets and the Evolution of their Horticulture Product Procurement Systems," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 22(6), pages 669-699, November.
  2. Weber, Michael T. & Donovan, Cynthia & Staatz, John M. & Dembele, Niama Nango, 2005. "Guidelines for Building Sustainable Market Information Systems in Africa with Strong Public-Private Partnerships," Food Security International Development Policy Syntheses 11433, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  3. Neven, David & Reardon, Thomas & Chege, Jonathan & Wang, Honglin, 2005. "Supermarkets And Consumers In Africa: The Case Of Nairobi, Kenya," Staff Papers 11584, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  4. Tschirley, David L. & Muendo, Kavoi Mutuku & Weber, Michael T., 2004. "Improving Kenya's Domestic Horticultural Production and Marketing System: Current Competitiveness, Forces of Change, and Challenges for the Future (Volume II: Horticultural Marketing)," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 55156, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  5. Dinghuan Hu & Thomas Reardon & Scott Rozelle & Peter Timmer & Honglin Wang, 2004. "The Emergence of Supermarkets with Chinese Characteristics: Challenges and Opportunities for China's Agricultural Development," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 22, pages 557-586, September.
  6. Tschirley, David L. & Abdula, Danilo Carimo & Weber, Michael T., 2006. "Toward Improved Maize Marketing and Trade Policies to Promote Household Food Security in Central and Southern Mozambique," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 56065, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  7. Tschirley, David L. & Ayieko, Miltone W. & Mathenge, Mary K. & Weber, Michael T., 2004. "Where Do Consumers in Nairobi Purchase their Food and Why Does this Matter? The Need for Investment to Improve Kenya's "Traditional" Food Marketing System," Food Security Collaborative Policy Briefs 54643, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  8. Bart Minten, 2008. "The Food Retail Revolution in Poor Countries: Is It Coming or Is It Over?," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 767-789.
  9. W. Bruce Traill, 2006. "The Rapid Rise of Supermarkets?," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 24(2), pages 163-174, March.
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