Supermarkets and urban value chains: rethinking the developmental mandate
One of the most pressing research concerns in food studies is understanding how urban value chains work and making recommendations for how they could work better, with the broader aim of linking farmers to markets and making food more accessible for the urban poor. This paper aims to broaden out the idea of urban value chains beyond the vision of the supermarket as the ultimate benefactor of profitable chain linkages, as it has been cast in the development literature. I also argue, with evidence from Lusaka, Zambia that development practitioners need to broaden the focus on linking small-scale farmers to markets beyond the overly optimistic vision of supermarkets. Overlooking urban markets disregards almost 90 per cent of urban food trade in African cities through these markets. It is precisely these modes of retail that connect small-scale farmers to markets and enable accessible food provisioning for urban residents. The paper concludes with a few salient interventions for development policy research.