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Making food system value chains inclusive for smallholders and rural people

Rapid urbanization and income growth are driving shifts in the diets of urban consumers in low-income countries in Africa and South Asia from inexpensive staple cereals to higher-value products such as fruits, vegetables, and animal-sourced foods. While the current disruption to incomes and supply chains from the COVID-19 pandemic may slow these developments and threaten food security in the near term, the longer-term demographic trends and related demand changes will provide important opportunities for agricultural development and reducing rural poverty.

As Chapter 2 of IFPRI's 2020 Global Food Policy Report outlines, meeting these challenges and changing demands, and capitalizing on the opportunities they bring, will depend on agrifood system transformation. Yet some of the required adjustments will pose significant barriers to smallholder farmers, who often lack both the means to invest in growth and access to markets. In order to leverage the potential of food systems to improve the livelihoods of smallholders and rural workers, policies will need to promote nonfarm job and income generation through development of the “hidden middle” of agrifood supply chains; and improve farm productivity and incomes by connecting smallholders to markets.