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Food processing and retail micro-activities and poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa

Bricas N., Broutin C.. 2008. In : GTDF. Trade as a development tool: partnerships and policies: 1st Conference of the Geneva Trade and Development Forum. s.l. : s.n., 17 p.. Conference of the Geneva Trade and Development Forum. 1, 2008-09-17/2008-09-20, Crans Montana (Suisse).

The increase in the prices of agricultural products on the international markets has serious consequences for food safety in Africa. In particular, it impacts countries which are highly dependent on food imports to feed the population. More than ever, it places the role of commercial food agriculture at the heart of considerations with a view to overcoming the crisis. As we too often forget, this sector is not restricted to farmers. It also concerns the millions of individuals who exercise activities which connect producers and consumer markets: food processing activities (oil extraction, grinding cereals, roots or tubers, fish drying etc.), marketing, distribution, retail and even catering. It is via this sector that the products are circulated, transported to markets, stored, adapted to consumer demand and distributed to these same consumers, while it is through the intermediary of these activities that market incentives are conveyed to the producers in terms of the required quantity, quality and price. This sector finds itself in a paradox: it plays a crucial role as the driving mechanism of the agricultural sector by developing domestic markets but is accorded little importance in public policies. These are often restricted to considering rural farmers on one side and urban consumers on the other, ignoring this entire sector which links the two, regulating both supply and demand in the process. This document primarily aims to draw the attention of the decision-makers to the importance of this sector while examining the causes of its political marginalisation. It then shows that not only does this sector play a crucial role in linking agricultural supply to the domestic food market, it also holds considerable potential with regard to food safety and poverty reduction. The final section suggests a number of possible courses of action and policies to encourage and accompany the development of this sector. Four main public policies are proposed in order to reinforce the role of this sector with regard to food safety and poverty reduction: a). The recognition of the sector in the policies; b) The improvement of the business environment to remove the obstacles to the development of the food processing and commercial micro-activities sector; c). The development of a range of adapted services (training, research, information, credit, etc.); d) .The explanation of the contribution of programmes to food safety and the reduction of poverty and inequalities in the definition, the monitoring and the evaluation of these programmes.

Mots-clés : produit alimentaire; afrique au sud du sahara

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