Rethinking Food Markets


We all depend on food for our well-being. Agricultural productivity has steadily grown in recent decades and technological and institutional innovations have proliferated within agrifood markets and value chains to help reduce poverty and global food insecurity. However, the agrifood sector’s overuse and misuse of natural resources has degraded the environment and exacerbated the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. Many of the world’s poor—women and youth in particular—depend on the food system for their livelihoods (income or employment), however most jobs and livelihood in the sector are low quality and poorly paid.

Due to still widespread poverty, exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak and the war in Ukraine, at least 3 billion people globally cannot afford nutritious diets. These populations have been unable to benefit from expanding food markets. Many of these failures are rooted in markets hindered by multiple deficiencies facing smallholders and other small-scale producers, traders and processors, including poor infrastructure and market access, lack of quality standards, weak value chain integration, poor access to finance and improved technologies, and policy support failing to foster sustainability and healthy diets.


The Rethinking Food Markets Initiative aims to identify the multiple obstacles to improving smallholder and medium- and small-sized enterprises (MSME)’s returns to participation in higher value food value chains and to adopting sustainable practices. After having conducted scoping analyses of prevailing constraints and the potential and options for better market functioningan obstacles assessment, the initiative is engaging with stakeholders towill identify, test, adapt, and scale bundles of game-changing innovations, incentive schemes and policies to create more equitable and inclusive sharing of income and greater employment opportunities in growing food markets, whileand empowering women and youth and encouraging their participation within agrifood systems and, while reducing the food sector’s environmental footprint.



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