Markets, Institutions, and Agricultural Performance in Africa

"The purpose of this paper was to discuss markets and institutions and their impact on agricultural performance in Africa. The paper has shown that poverty is a serious problem in Africa that is leading to food insecurity and poor nutrition. At the same time, smallholder farmers have limited access to markets for their various agricultural products due to transaction costs, poor infrastructure, agricultural risk, missing markets and institutional constraints. Some of the problems, such as missing markets have been aggravated by the withdrawal of marketing boards from remote areas, a move necessitated by market liberalization. Since the structural adjustment programmes have not succeeded in Africa, the paper recommends that the direction taken by NEPAD to let Africans take the lead in designing their own programmes needs to be supported. The paper further recommends that regional initiatives such as SADC, COMEASA and ECOWAS should launch a campaign to persuade African governments to substitute African products for foreign products. Finally, for market development, collective action among farmers, agro-processing to add value, development of grades and standards, infrastructural development, and market information should be top priority in every African country."