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The development of market infrastructure has had a rather chequered history. Many developments have been too large or have failed to attract users and, consequently, have not been economically, financially or socially viable. Usually, the reason for this failure was that the critical first steps in the development cycle, when the basic strategic and planning decisions should be taken and when the development or “accommodation brief”* should be formulated, were overlooked.

* This term is defined in more detail in Chapter 5. To prepare a master plan for market development and, subsequently, to prepare infrastructure designs and budget costs, will require an accommodation brief. Broadly, the brief restates in physical terms the issues influencing the market design process, including policy, social, operational, management and economic factors.
The expansion of existing markets or construction of new ones is a complex process. It requires substantial capital investment. These investment decisions should be based on a review of marketing conditions, an analysis of the demand for facilities and a financial assessment. The users of the new facilities should be involved in the market design from the outset and there should be prior agreement on operating procedures and fee levels. This requires consultation and awareness campaigns targeted to farmers, suppliers, transport operators, traders, market employees and local authorities. If the closure of an old market and opening of a new market is foreseen this has to be carefully coordinated. Existing traders should agree to the changes and to the space-allocation process for the new market. Thought needs to be given to how the market operations will be shifted, in order to minimise any loss in time available for trading.

Many markets have problems of congestion and lack facilities. Although the investment in urban wholesale and retail markets is generally greater and the problems more complex than for rural assembly and retail markets, the basic design principles are similar. All these types of markets are considered in this guide.

The intention of the guide is not to duplicate other FAO technical publications on design and management of markets. Rather, it aims to provide, for decision makers and planners, a step-by-step approach through the planning process. It concentrates on the initial formulation and basic design of market infrastructure proposals.

Acknowledgements: The assistance of the staff of the FAO Marketing and Rural Finance Service is kindly acknowledged in the preparation of the guide. Particular thanks are due to Edward Seidler for helping in developing the ideas behind the guide and to Andrew Shepherd for reviewing the draft manuscripts.

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