Unleashing the Potential of Crops in Africa through Value Chain Analysis

Alemu Tesfaye | Communicarion & Dissemination Manager, InnoFoodAfrica



The potential of crops in Africa is vast, but many are underutilized or undervalued. However, recent research conducted by various institutions under the InnoFoodAfrica project has shed light on the opportunities and barriers of various crops in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, and South Africa. The report focuses on crops such as amaranth, cowpea, finger millet, orange-fleshed sweet potato, sorghum, banana, maize, and teff.

The study identified the best farming practices, value addition activities, and marketing strategies that can be operationalized to empower small-scale farmers and traders across the entire food value chain of the selected crops. The report recommended reducing food waste while enhancing the commercial viability of selected crops from the four countries by creating added value exportable products and satisfying the local market dietary demands.

Moreover, the report has highlighted critical information on the barriers and opportunities for small-scale farmers and traders in the four countries surveyed. By understanding the costs and margins of each actor, it was possible to identify areas where efficiencies could be improved and where potential interventions could be made to improve the economic returns for those involved in the value chain. Additionally, this information was important for identifying potential market opportunities and assessing the overall competitiveness of each value chain.

Our approach

It is crucial to develop a coordinated and sustainable agro-food system in Africa that equips all actors in the value chain to handle improved yields and maintain quality requirements for local and export markets. However, simply increasing yields without ensuring proper uptake and utilization of produce can result in waste, low pricing, inconsistent production, and a lack of sustainability.

The InnoFoodAfrica project is taking a systematic approach to the development of sustainable food value chains, including the analysis of current value chains, the development of country-specific value chains with export potential, and the support of sustainable value chains that promote gender equality by engaging women in various activities along the value chain.

The project’s co-creation process with African and European experts will empower small-holder farmers, processors, producers, and consumers, identifying new local and international business and market opportunities in the cereal-pulse-root crop-fruit food and packaging value chains by engaging with value chain actors and investigating new business models. The value chain assessment and market survey collected data on the products, actors, barriers, and opportunities within the selected area associated with the cultivation of these crops. This research is also being carried out in areas where farmer participatory research is currently being conducted.

The key stakeholders, including county crop officers, extension officers, and county directors of agriculture, were interviewed to gather information on the respective four crops. All of this information was used to develop resource-efficient, safe, and sustainable food production value chains for the selected countries, with the aim of empowering small-holder farmers, processors, producers, and consumers through co-creation with African and European experts, and catalyzing new local and international business and market opportunities.


In conclusion, the value chain and market survey report highlights that to fully unleash the potential of crops in Africa, stakeholders in government institutions, universities, private companies, and international organizations must develop alliances and strategies to exploit these crops intelligently. By focusing on sustainable food value chains, the InnoFoodAfrica project is empowering small-holder farmers, processors, producers, and consumers, identifying new local and international business and market opportunities. The report provides a roadmap for policymakers and other stakeholders to improve the value chain and increase the competitiveness of these crops in the global market, ultimately contributing to the economic growth and development of Africa.

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