How small businesses are driving growth across African agriculture

A new report from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) finds that millions of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) source directly from millions more smallholder farmers across Africa South of the Sahara. These SMEs, often led by women, include food processors, wholesalers, and retailers. SMEs provide a range of services, from transport and logistics to the sale of inputs such as fertilizer and seed to farmers. Their activity is driving a “quiet revolution” across African agriculture, connecting smallholder farmers to commercial markets at an unprecedented rate.

IFPRI’s Bart Minten and Rob Vos contributed to the first three chapters of the report, which pokes holes in the common conception of stagnant African agriculture and food sectors. Instead, the report finds a vibrant agri-food sector, especially in distribution, processing, and procurement and logistics. Many small- and medium-sized enterprises are channeling food from farms to households and creating employment for millions in this middle part of the food system which is not “missing” but “hidden” and often ignored by policy makers.

Photo credit: ColdHubs