Market-Oriented Strategies to Improve Household Access to Food: Experience from Sub-Saharan Africa

The objectives of this report are to identify market-oriented strategies to alleviate both chronic and transitory food insecurity, and to examine the interactions between short-run targeting mechanisms and longer-run strategies designed to alleviate the chronic causes of inadequate access to food. The main premise of the report is that sustained improvements in household access to food in Sub-Saharan Africa require the development of more reliable food and input markets that (a) create incentives to adopt cost-reducing investments at various stages in the food system; and (b) offer incentives for rural households to shift from a subsistence-oriented pattern of production and consumption to more productive systems based on specialization and gains from exchange. Sustained productivity growth in most parts of the world has typically entailed some form of structural transformation, which, in the historical development processes of other regions, has been a prerequisite for broad-based and sustained growth in productivity, real incomes and purchasing power throughout society. Structural transformation involves a movement away from subsistence-oriented, household-level production toward an integrated economy based on specialization and exchange. But specialization makes households dependent on the performance of exchange systems. The ability to capture the productivity gains from new technology and specialization thus depends on reducing the risks and uncertainty of market-based exchange, thereby facilitating greater participation in the types of specialized production and consumption patterns involved in the process of structural transformation. Section 3 presents empirical evidence from research conducted in Africa to draw conclusions about how the design of agricultural policies and transfer programs have affected household access to food in both rural and urban areas. Based on the foregoing, section 4 presents the following guidelines for the design of strategies to promote access to food in Africa: (1.) Focus on achieving productivity gains in the food system. (2.) Focus on how food and income transfer programs can be designed to promote the long-run development of the food system- the basis for providing food for most people over the long run in addition to providing food to people in the short run. (3.) Focus on reducing consumer food costs by expanding the range of products available to produce and consume. (4.) Focus on the cost and reliability of food supplies to rural areas as a component of non-farm, livestock, and other income diversification strategies designed to promote access to food over the longer run. (5.) Focus on developing local analytical expertise to help guide food system development.

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International Development Papers

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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