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August 02, 2011

Africa now main external supplier of vegetables to the EU

by Kate Langford

Vegetable production is gaining more and more momentum in Africa, especially as the export market expands and urban demand increases.

Economist and Senior Marketing Specialist at the World Agroforestry Centre, Dagmar Mithöfer, is lead editor of a new book titled Vegetable Production and Marketing in Africa: Socio-economic Research. She coordinated the project and led much of the research while based at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE).

“Africa has become the main external supplier of vegetables to the European Union,” says Dagmar Mithöfer, Economist and Senior Marketing Specialist at the World Agroforestry Centre. “In 2006 the export value of vegetables from sub-Saharan Africa was $474 million. But this is only a minor share as the biggest market is still domestic. We are seeing increasing interest from research organizations, development partners and policy makers in what benefits can be obtained from vegetable production for both domestic and export markets.”

Mithöfer, is lead editor of a new book titled Vegetable Production and Marketing in Africa: Socio-economic Research. Among other things, the book explores the potential for vegetable production to alleviate poverty through providing jobs in production, processing and trade.

From French beans and cabbage in Kenya to tomatoes, rape, and onions in Zambia, and green beans and tomatoes in Senegal, the book includes case studies that consider different supply chains and price variability as well as factors ranging from smallholder participation to farm worker welfare, gender perspectives, to the economics of pest control using pesticides versus biological control. It also analyses the impact of food production standards on various stakeholders.

Mithöfer’s believes Vegetable Production and Marketing in Africa will be of particular interest to researchers of horticulture and development studies as well as policy makers.

Research for the book was funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ, Germany). The book is published by CABI and available from

World Agroforestry Center

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