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Agrifood Commodity Chains and Consumption

Developing agriculture—including smallholder farming—requires the development of commodity chains that connect local products to markets. Signs of quality such as Geographic Indications (GIs), fair trade and short marketing chains are ways to increase farmers’ incomes. Product processing and inter-branch consultation foster the link between the agricultural supply and the demand from local markets and cities.

The development of agricultural commodity chains is one vital condition for the development of agriculture. Farmers, even smallholder farmers, can no longer live in isolation, and some of their crops must be marketed. Simultaneously, food demand in African cities is skyrocketing, pushed by growing urbanization of populations. It is vitally important to offer products that meet urban consumers’ expectations and develop a strong agrifood sector able to supply cities with local products.

The “commodity chain” approach makes it possible to better analyze the relationships between actors and maximize farmers’ incomes. But smallholder farming is not easily competitive, in particular in disadvantaged, often isolated agricultural zones. The volumes to be sold are small and scattered, not always suited to demand. In some cases, people living on the edges of protected areas gather or use the local biodiversity to get products sell in the market. In this context, GRET favors finding markets that are more profitable or easier to access for farmers: Geographic Indication (GI) products, organic or agroecologic products, fair trade, local supply chains, etc. Product processing makes it possible to connect local raw materials with new demands from urban consumers.