What is known about the impact of structured demand activities on resilient food systems?

Research reports and studies
October 2013
Christopher Coles
This paper presents the results of a review of the evidence for impacts of structured demand programmes on resilient food systems. Structured demand is one of several instruments – the others being strategic emergency reserves and integrated livelihoods programmes – that contribute to food security by reducing risk and vulnerability through enhancing productivity and/or ensuring a reliable supply of food. Structured demand programmes connect large, predictable sources of demand for agricultural products to small farmers, which, in theory, reduces risk and encourages improved quality, leading to improved systems, increased income, and reduced poverty.

The evidence suggests that structured demand is most effective in promoting food security when: 

a) coupled with supply-side agricultural development interventions, 

b) based upon robust, accurate market analysis (which is often lacking in food crisis contexts), and 

c) implemented in a sequenced precautionary approach:

i) short-term; ensure immediate food security, 

ii) medium-term; build effective markets and infrastructure,

iii) longer-term; move to market-based policies once markets are functional.