Browse themes
About publications

Information for 16520IIED

Innovating to compete: Smallholder farmers' agency and markets in East Africa

Africa’s small-scale farming is a crucial element of the economy. There is considerable interest in the integration of smallholder farmers into markets. There has been concentration on helping small-scale farmers to meet the quality and quantity requirements of buyers like supermarkets, processors and export firms, mainly through organising them in value chains. Research and experience from practitioners working with smallholder farmers show that this approach is not appropriate for the majority of Africa’s smallholder farmers. Fewer than 20 per cent are organised in value chains or producing for supermarket export, and the majority of people are still buying most of their food in traditional, open markets and small retailers. Understanding how informal markets work may contribute to improved mechanisms that support the access and flexibility of informality while also considering food safety and environmental concerns, and avoiding corruption and other negative factors working against the interests of farmers and consumers. Despite the importance of smallholder farming in Africa, current policy and practice lack the conceptual and empirical analysis to support this important segment of the population to provide the basis for development as well as mitigating volatility of food prices. Attempts to modernise agriculture have not significantly changed its nature.


Publication information

Download and Sharing

Free PDF 1,253k

Share with your network:

Medius, B, Kinyua, H, Muyoya, H, Shariff, M & Rwakakamba, M. (2012) Innovating to compete: Smallholder farmers' agency and markets in East Africa. IIED/Hivos/Mainumby.

Project information

What are the strategies and constraints of small-scale producers in an era of globalisation? This project provides insights that can help in designing better policies and business interventions to support them.

More at www.iied.org:
Small producer agency in the globalised market

We use cookies to help improve this website. Clicking any link on this site will be taken as your consent to this.