Searching Solution

Searching for solutions

To food marketing problems in Sub-Saharan Africa

The organisation of food markets has proved quite a challenge. Neither the State-controlled models of recently independent countries, nor the “liberalised” models of recent decades have delivered on their promise. I have been at the forefront of the search for ways out of this conundrum, working closely with a range of counterparts.

Warehouse receipts and commodity-collateralised financing.

I have major experience with this topic, and this allows me to identify opportunities and the most promising approaches. I researched the subject widely and authored the first internationally available text on it in 1995 – see link, and this was translated into French – see link and Spanish – see link. I have worked on the topic in many countries including India, Ghana, Zambia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Cameroon, Mozambique, Senegal, Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Brazil and Colombia. I have also drafted a bankers’ guide for the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Searching solution warehouse
Licensed warehouse in Jinja, Uganda

I have carried out some important reviews on the topic, including one on Eastern & Southern Africa initiatives, for UNCTAD, in 2009, as well as a nine-country study in which I partnered a London law firm and coordinated a series of local sub-contractors, for CTA, AFD and IFAD, in 2014.

Commodity exchanges

I have examined the scope for commodity exchanges and/or reviewed past exchange initiatives, in Ethiopia, West Africa region, Nigeria and Mozambique, primarily focusing on mechanisms for delivering commodities against contracts. – See Link for report on Ethiopia.

Searching for solution - Jonathan Coulter
Cupping coffee traded on the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange

Harnessing public procurement.

Starting in 2004, I advocated that food aid agencies operating in Africa use their procurement muscle to further leverage the development of food markets for the benefit of smallholder farmers and consumers – see link.  In 2011, I participated in a review of the World Food Programme Purchase’s for Progress (P4P) initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other donors.  P4P is being implemented in 21 countries and involves piloting alternative food procurement modalities.

Harnessing public procurement
A well-ordered store supplying World Food Programme, Uganda

Improving rural and on-farm storage of food commodities.

Working with food technologists, I supported the Swiss Development Cooperation’s renowned Post-Cosecha Programme in Central America, and advised on extending the approach to Africa.

Concept testing new improved types of grain store
Concept testing new types of grain store in Mozambique, using approach I previously introduced in Central America
Contributions Swaziland
Swaziland: making grain silos.

Farmer cooperation and contract farming.

From 1994 to 1999, I led a DFID-funded study on “Self-Help in the Provision of Agricultural Services”, examining the performance of co-operatives, self-help groups, and out-grower schemes. I have also examined and/or advised on contract-farming involving a variety of crops in Mozambique, Mali, Benin, India (Punjab) and Ghana.

Tiger and nuts
Farmer near Maradi, Niger, with tigernuts and groundnuts grown in sandy soil
Drying smallholder tobacco
drying smallholder tobacco produced under contract arrangements, Mozambique.