Traditional markets sell more than 85% of the food consumed in sub-Saharan Africa, and these informal, open-air local markets often have safer milk and meat than supermarkets in much of Africa, according to a book just released by A4NH partner, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
The much anticipated book, Food safety and informal markets: Animal products in sub-Saharan Africa, summarizes key lessons from assessing and improving food safety in informal value chains and offers policymakers and public health experts ways to improve food safety in the region.
Not only do traditional markets meet most of the food demand in the region, but they also boost local economies and tend to source products from neighboring farmers. The book adds, local vendors offer fresher products to several hundred million low-income consumers, and many supermarkets still do not have well-regulated supply chains or stable refrigeration systems to prevent contamination.
“We are wrong to think that we can just adopt solutions developed in wealthy countries that favor large commercial operations over small producers," ILRI scientist and A4NH Flagship 3 leader Delia Grace said in a statement. She added, "That will just exacerbate hunger and further limit money earning options for the poor."
There is a huge food safety opportunity, given the volume of consumers utilizing these markets. Providing simple food safety training for informal vendors can make a significant difference in stemming the spread of diseases such as SARS and avian influenza, or pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli. Informal markets are growing in the foreseeable future, and policymakers should work with market traders and consumers to improve food safety on a large scale.
** The book may be accessed here: Food safety and informal markets: Animal products in sub-Saharan Africa, edited by Kristina Roesel and Delia Grace, published by Routledge.
The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) works with partners worldwide to improve food and nutritional security and to reduce poverty in developing countries through research on efficient, safe and sustainable use of livestock—ensuring better lives through livestock. The products generated by ILRI and its partners help people in developing countries enhance their livestock-dependent livelihoods, health and environments. ILRI is a member of the CGIAR Consortium of 15 research centers working for a food-secure future. ILRI has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, a second principal campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and other offices in Southern and West Africa and South, Southeast and East Asia. http://www.ilri.org