Pathways to Commercialisation

Onions on sale in a MarketThis theme examines the question of how to raise productivity in the agricultural sector, and how smallholder farmers can participate in markets and improve livelihoods. Recognising that the liberalisation orthodoxy focusing on markets has not worked (or at least only partially), we focus on institutional questions, particularly in conditions where markets are weak, thin and interlocking.

Questions we are pursuing include:

  • What pathways to which types of commercialisation are open to smallholder producers?
  • What market and institutional innovation in supply chains might help smallholder producers?
  • How do labour markets and institutions affect agricultural growth and poverty reduction?
  • How can coordination failures in finance, input and output supply be remedied?
  • How can agri-business be developed and regulated?

Latest articles

Unpacking the Political Economy of Sugar in southern Africa
Unpacking the Political Economy of Sugar in southern Africa
October 17, 2016 / Pathways to Commercialisation
A new open journal special issue of the Journal of Southern African sheds light on the political economy of sugar in southern Africa. The past decade has witnessed an upsurge in interest in the relationship between corporate capital and agricultural

Transforming Africa through agriculture
Transforming Africa through agriculture
February 3, 2014 / Pathways to Commercialisation
Economic development is not just about growth - it is about transformation. In a new blog post, Steve Wiggins looks at what we know about agriculture's rise in Africa, and how smallholder farmers can be part of transforming the future

11 November, Brussels: Leaping and Learning report launch
11 November, Brussels: Leaping and Learning report launch
November 4, 2013 / Pathways to Commercialisation
An event on 11 November 2013 in Brussels will launch two new reports which provide practical, real-life examples of linking smallholder farmers in Africa to markets, as well as a robust academic review of the challenges faced, lessons learned and

The New Alliance and changing patterns of growth – workshop
The New Alliance and changing patterns of growth – workshop
September 25, 2013 / Pathways to Commercialisation
Initial findings from research into changing patterns of growth and investment in countries involved in the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, will be presented in November. Building on earlier analysis, this project reviews recent trends in agricultural growth,

Leaping and Learning: Linking smallholders to markets
Leaping and Learning: Linking smallholders to markets
September 17, 2013 / Pathways to Commercialisation
Leaping and Learning: Linking Smallholders to Markets (pdf) is a comprehensive review of the existing literature on smallholder-centred market-based interventions. Smallholder farms in sub-Saharan Africa number around 33 million, represent 80% of all farms in the region, and contribute up

Productivity and food prices: the missing link?
Productivity and food prices: the missing link?
February 8, 2013 / Pathways to Commercialisation
High and unstable food prices have been high on international agendas in recent years, amid concerns about population, demand and environmental constraints. A new paper by Andrew Dorward argues that much greater attention needs to be paid to understanding and

Will there be a global food crisis in 2013?
Will there be a global food crisis in 2013?
January 23, 2013 / Pathways to Commercialisation
FAC Commercialisation theme convenor Steve Wiggins is quoted in an IRIN article considering the outlook for global food security in 2013. After the 2012 drought affecting the USA, maize prices fell slightly, but from a relatively high position. Cereal prices

Food, finance and speculation
Food, finance and speculation
January 23, 2013 / Pathways to Commercialisation
A new FAC Working Paper, Food price volatility and financial speculation (pdf), looks at the link between different forms of speculation on financial markets, and unstable or inaccurate food prices. In a post on the FAC blog, the paper's author,

Getting on with the job: connecting smallholders to markets in eastern Africa
Getting on with the job: connecting smallholders to markets in eastern Africa
August 8, 2012 / Pathways to Commercialisation
Over 30 agricultural development practitioners from four eastern African countries participated in a ‘Smallholder Café’ in Nairobi on 11 July 2012.The event was the second of three regional workshops, organised by Future Agricultures Consortium, and co-hosted by the Food, Agriculture

Video: our Commercialisation research
Video: our Commercialisation research
June 27, 2012 / Pathways to Commercialisation
In this series of five videos, Future Agricultures Consortium researchers talk about our work on Commercialisation. We are looking at how small farmers participate in markets, how policies and institutions can support them, through a series of case studies. These