The panel focuses on rural food farmers who target urban markets, exploring not only their challenges and opportunities, but also how farme''s actions shape urban food markets. Crops, labour, diversification of investments, new technologies or dual residency are some of the facets of this theme.
Feeding the growing African cities has been a concern for governments from the Second World War, often perceived as a problem. Urban-bias policies aiming at cheap food, projects devoted to decrease imports such as rice, the margins of traders and ethnic networks, the geography of the markets or the length of the value chain have been central issues of academic research. On the other hand, farmers growing for export markets have been the main focus not only of policies but also of historical and ethnographic studies. And yet, rural farmers growing food for urban markets remain under-researched and, usually depicted as victims of outside forces, their agency have almost been neglected. Data on production, rarely available before 1960 except for exports, show that for most of the countries the top crops are cassava, yams or maize which target domestic markets: growing African cities also mean growing markets for farmers. This panel welcomes papers from all disciplines on rural food farmers who target urban markets. Taking into account that farmers grow specific crops with specific value chains, the panel seeks to explore not only the varied and multi-directional connections, challenges and opportunities that shape farmers' actions, but also how farmers shape urban markets. Choice of crops and inputs, organisation and gender division of labour, diversification of investments, emergence of a rural middle class, use of technologies such as mobile phones or dual residency arrangements linking rural and urban zones are some of the facets of this theme.