And it is vital to find solutions for these people if they are not to suffer the same fate as the 1.5 billion people already living in urban slums today. These unique challenges faced by the urban poor were summed up by IFPRI Director-General Shenggen Fan: limited access to basic services (access to good food is not enough if e.g. no sanitation is available), vulnerability to income and price shocks, an increase in malnutrition/obesity owing to dietary changes and a strong dependence on informal markets for food supplies.

Stop putting down informal markets

Informal markets are often associated with a lack of regulation, insecurity and poor quality, characteristics none of which we actually want to see in modern agri-food systems. So does the future lie with a formalisation of markets? Things aren’t that simple, as Delia Grace of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) demonstrated. For most of the fresh food in developing countries is produced and marketed in the informal sector (e.g.