Markets set the legal and institutional context for economic transactions, and provide the physical place for such transactions to take place. HarvestChoice focuses on the physical and spatial dimensions of markets, especially the extent to which farming households in rural areas have access to markets and a range of service providers.
It is important to farm households and other rural enterprises to have access to markets in order to trade or sell their goods, buy critical agricultural inputs, or tap into a range of public and private services (extension, credit, and veterinary services being prime examples). The more accessible markets are to a given population, the greater are the options for diversifying production and livelihood strategies and for enhancing food security.
In this section we present market accessibility-themed spatial datasets and analysis results. In order to assess and compare the “closeness” of households to different types and sizes of markets in Sub-Saharan Africa, we use travel time measures. A travel time map illustrates the degree of accessibility of any given location to a specific type of market or service center (e.g., to the nearest settlement with a population greater than 50,000 people, or to the nearest seaport). Our travel time measure takes into account a number of factors including the length and quality of the road surfaces crossed and the nature of off-road terrain that must be traversed to reach a road (allowing for slope and land cover type).