It is common knowledge that rural Africa faces formidable problems such as poverty and malnutrition, inadequate farm yields, low use of fertilizers, certified seed and irrigation, and often poor infrastructure. This paper acknowledges those problems. But it also presents the message that there is also good news for African food systems, in this new era of urbanization and emergence of a middle class, that are emerging and developing firms all along the supply chain : the emergence of a “Quiet Revolution in African food supply chains,” led mainly by African entrepreneurs in tens of thousands of small enterprises, scores, and perhaps soon hundreds, of medium and large-scale firms like Bakhresa grain millers in Tanzania, Shoprite and Uchumi supermarkets chains in South Africa and Kenya, Zartech chicken processors in Nigeria, and so on. African food markets have expanded 6-8-fold over the past four decades with most of that growth in the past two decades, and have begun a transformation. A central implication of this paper is the need for good public policy and investments to leverage urbanization and diet diversification, to develop food supply chains, to feed millions of people in growing cities millions of rural household food buyers, and to increase incomes of poor rural households who produce food and are employed in food supply chain activities.
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