Sub-Saharan Africa’s significant changes in food consumption patterns
This report (PDF) by l’Agence Française de Développement (AFD) elaborates on the importance of food markets for food consumption in African cities and rural areas. It argues that food systems in West Africa are rapidly changing and that, contrary to popular belief, the percentage of subsistence farming for food consumption in rural areas is also declining. Therefore, market supply is becoming the main source for food consumption and rural as well as urban household tend to become more vulnerable to fluctuation in food prices on these markets, which impacts their food security. As a result, issues with food security in rural and urban areas tend to converge with the increasing importance of food markets and food prices. The food markets are also diversifying, due to changes in the types of food that are consumed. Food security debates are often focused on grains and cereals, but these products make up less than half of total food consumption economic value at national level. While grains and cereals provide two-thirds of the caloric intake, animal products and other products are equally significant to agricultural development. Moreover, the nutritional component of the products is crucial in a context in which malnutrition from lack of protein and energy sources are increasingly rare and the main nutritional issues lie in the reduction of chronic malnutrition, caused by imbalances in the micro-nutrient profile of dietary consumption. The authors argue that these changes call for a revisiting of methods of research and statistics, which must focus on understanding consumption practices. In this study, data from national and urban household consumption and expenditure surveys (NHCS) were used. The authors indicate that data from NHCS is a rich source of information on food politics, but it remains underused.