A boom in the opening of supermarkets in sub-Saharan Africa is raising standards in food production and distribution, which many small producers struggle to meet, said the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

At a globalisation workshop, FAO officials said the growth of mass retail in countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland would “have a direct impact on the lives of millions of small farmers.”

Thomas Reardon, of Michigan State University in the USA, said Kenya now has 200 supermarkets and ten hypermarkets imposing higher quality standards than small shops and markets.

FAO officials called for help in establishing cooperatives, micro-loans and training to enable small producers to meet this demand or risk going under.