Working with informality: constructive ways to transform food systems

Many people in low-income countries rely on informal food systems for food and livelihoods. But informality puts food systems outside — or partly outside — the governance of states and value chains. This working paper explores the challenges involved in reversing decades of underinvestment, and why focusing too closely on formalisation may price out or remove informal food systems — and those who depend on them — from the market. Instead, development organisations engaged in food systems transformation should constructively engage with informal agrifood markets and actors, recognising what informal food systems already do well and focusing on building partnerships based on common cause, to build trust.

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