There is an unrecognised but vast ‘hidden middle’ of private sector businesses operating in Africa between agricultural producers and food consumers. This is made up of a range of private actors providing transport, trading, brokerage, finance, storage, warehousing, processing and so on. This is neither ‘traditional’ (small, village based) nor ‘modern’ (organised, large-scale).
These players facilitate medium-length value chains across a range of commodities that are in demand by (mostly) urban consumers, both in relation to inputs and marketed outputs of farm production. Studies show that this sector is under-recognised, but large and vibrant, and increasingly transforming agricultural value chains, generating value and employment across Africa.
This article is from Zimbabweland, a blog written by IDS research fellow Ian Scoones. Zimbabweland focuses on issues related to rural livelihoods and land reform in Zimbabwe.