Keeping food flowing within African food systems by busting policy myths

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Lawrence Haddad shares his thoughts inspired by the recent CGIAR-supported paper on persistent myths about African food supply chains.

by Lawrence Haddad (Executive Director, GAIN) 

I love academic papers that use evidence to try and shift stubborn policy perspectives, especially when those policy perspectives seem to be holding back development and hunger reduction. So, it is no surprise that I like the recent paper by Liverpool-Tasie et al. (2020) on persistent myths that are held about African food supply chains.

At the Food System Summit in September, big decisions will be taken, and this report can help to ensure the right ones are made for Africa.

First, the paper reminds us what food supply chains are: vertical – from farm input suppliers to farmers all the way to traders, processing, retail and consumers, but also lateral supply chains – logistics, labour and materials. Then we are reminded about the importance of food supply chains in Africa: 90% by weight of the food consumed in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is from domestic food supply chains. And SMEs deliver 85% of the food supply chains, i.e. 77% of all food consumed in sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, purchases of food are 80% of total consumption in sub-Saharan Africa. This latter percentage is very similar to GAIN’s own analyses of World Bank Living Measurement Survey data which I have presented in dozens of venues over the past 4 years.

So, what is the problem with food supply chains? The authors contend that policymakers – domestic and international – are clinging to the past. Their vision of SSA food supply chains are 30 years out of date. There are 5 key myths which the paper outlines. READ MORE>>


This blog first appeared on GAIN.

The authors of the paper “Essential non‐essentials”: COVID‐19 policy missteps in Nigeria rooted in persistent myths about African food supply chains featured in the blog acknowledge financial support for this work from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Feed the Future initiative through the Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project. They also appreciate financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Michigan AgBioResearch. Funding for the studies of COVID‐19 impacts on supply chains in Nigeria was provided by the CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri‐Food Systems (FISH) led by WorldFish, and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Photo by Colince Menel/CIFOR


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