In May 2009, 150 of the world’s leading market experts gathered in Nairobi, Kenya to consider how governments, donors and other stakeholders could improve Africa’s national and regional agricultural markets. Their goal was to identify and recommend priority actions for achieving more efficient and effective markets that would contribute to poverty reduction and economic development throughout the continent.
The Conference, organized by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, (AGRA) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), comprised a wide range of representatives from the African agricultural value chain.
Participants considered interventions that have improved African markets as well as actions and policies that have undermined them. Overall, the experts concurred that no single institution or group of special interest stakeholders could resolve the array of problems afflicting Africa’s agricultural markets. Participants called for a range of efforts that would dramatically scale up proven interventions and test new ideas and approaches that would unleash the capacity of African agriculture to improve livelihoods and drive economic growth.
Among the many recommendations made for priority action was the need to encourage innovations that improve market efficiency and more fully integrate small-scale agro-entrepreneurs into marketing processes. Another recommendation was to support the provision of financial services to small-scale agro-enterprises and smallholder farmers – especially women – and the channeling of “smart subsidies” for farmers and small agro-businesses through private sector input suppliers in order to create market demand.