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Abstract

This paper uses a recently available panel dataset from Nigeria to explore some implications of the rapidly transforming food system in Sub Saharan Africa. We find that urban and rural households in Nigeria have rapidly transforming diets. Consumption has diversified greatly, shifting beyond self-sufficiency into heavy reliance on food purchases and with a heavy shift into consumption of processed foods. We find that the growing demand for processed foods has important implications for the midstream (processing and wholesale) and downstream (retail) sector of food systems. The rise of these two segments (on the supply side) paralleling the rise of processed and prepared foods (on the demand side) creates opportunities for employment and income generation. Furthermore the availability of processed foods (to serve as substitutes for home food processing and preparation, usually a heavy use of time for women in traditional settings) appears to have reduced women’s time constraint and freed up time for them to engage more in non-farm activities in the local area – just as it did a half century ago in the US. These findings demonstrate the potential benefits from the transforming foods systems that could increase employment and improve household welfare in developing countries.

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