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Guiding Investments in Sustainable Agricultural Markets in Africa : GISAMA

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Arguably one of the greatest challenges the world now faces is how to overcome chronic poverty and hunger in Africa. Successfully addressing this challenge will require making millions of small African farmers more productive. Africa’s food economies are rapidly changing. These changes include:

1. gyrations in world food and fuel prices;

2. Africa’s transition to becoming a predominantly urban continent, and its rapidly growing reliance on markets for ensuring access to food for the majority of its population;

3. poorly understood changes over the past two decades in smallholder food marketing patterns and urban consumption patterns, and

4. changes in the organization and concentration of businesses at particular stages of the staple food value chains

All of these changes profoundly affect which market institutions, market investment opportunities, and policy strategies are likely to be viable and which stand the greatest chance of supporting smallholder productivity and income growth.


The Guiding Investments for Sustainable Agricultural Markets in Africa (GISAMA) Project is a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to Michigan State University’s Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics. MSU is partnering with a number of African organizations, including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the University of Malawi, University of Zambia, Tegemeo Institute of Egerton University/Kenya, the University of Pretoria, and the Permanent Committee for Interstate Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS). The focus countries of the GISAMA Project include Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, and Zambia. This project aims to achieve four overall objectives:

1. Identify strategic opportunities and investment potential: Identify the conditions, pathways, and strategies by which food markets and food marketing investments can directly and indirectly raise the incomes of smallholder households in Africa, with particular emphasis on the poor;

2. Assess impact: Assess the potential impact of specific types of public interventions (e.g., marketing board price stabilization, infrastructure development, and market information systems) on staple food markets, smallholder welfare, and food security.

3. Disseminate findings and promote public discussion, through collaborative research and outreach events with key regional policy institutions, in order to improve the quality of public policies and investments that together are necessary to foster private sector investment and involvement in Africa’s staple food markets.

4. Build capacity through direct collaboration between MSU and local analysts in carrying out analysis and outreach activities.

Complete activity description of this 4 year program of research.