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Author(s):  Tschirle ,D; Ayieko, Miltone; Mathenge,Mary;Weber,M

Studies presented in recent professional conferences in Nairobi, and articles in the popular press have sounded the alarm regarding the “rapid growth” of supermarkets in the country and the negative impact this growth may have on smallholder farmers. Briefly put, these articles have indicated that supermarkets are rapidly taking over market share in Kenya’s food system, and that they are progressively by-passing smallholder farmers and traditional markets to obtain their supplies directly from medium- and large-scale farmers.

These patterns are said to be consistent with those found throughout the developing world. As a result, it is claimed, small farmers may be increasingly confined to a rapidly shrinking and poorly functioning “traditional” marketing system, while larger farmers serve the growing -- and more profitable -- “modern” sector.

These arguments have been made especially for the fresh fruit and vegetable (FFV) sector, because it is in this sector that the impact of supermarket growth would be greatest, due to the fact that these products are not processed prior to consumption. Policy recommendations that have been put forth in these papers focus heavily on the need to help smallholder farmers of fresh produce to penetrate this growing “supermarket market”, and have stressed that the window of opportunity to do so is very small, perhaps only the next five years.

In this Policy Brief, we present results of empirical research on these issues, and ask “How should Kenyan policy makers respond to these warnings?” We first briefly describe how we studied these issues, then present our findings, and finally discuss the implications of these findings for policy and investment in Kenya.

Where do Consumers in Nairobi Purchase their Food and why does this matter? The Need for Investiment to Improve Kenya's Traditional Food Marketing System


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