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Africa: Small Businesses Soaring, Driving Growth Across African Agriculture

A new report finds 64% of food consumed in Africa is handled by millions of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), creating vast opportunities for family and women farmers

A report published today finds that millions of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) sourced directly from millions of more smallholder farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa. These SMEs, often women-led, include food processors, wholesalers, and retailers. SMEs provide a range of services, from transport and logistics to the sale of inputs such as fertilizer and seed to farmers.  Their activity is driving a “Quiet Revolution” across African agriculture, connecting smallholder farmers to commercial markets at an unprecedented rate.

The report finds that, overall, only about 20 percent of the volume of food consumed in Africa fits the conventional notion of subsistence agriculture—food consumed directly by the farming households that grow it. The majority of what Africans eat flows through what is known as privates sector “value chains” managed by SME businesses that purchase commodities directly from smallholder farmers and then process, package, transport and sell food products to the urban and rural consumer.

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