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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?

Transforming Africa through agriculture

Harvesting a cereal crop in Ethiopia

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 of the continent.

Blog: African agriculture is growing, but is it transforming? Steve Wiggins, 3 February 2014

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The New Alliance and changing patterns of growth - workshop

Seed conditioning plant in EthiopiaInitial 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, rural poverty and hunger, to understand better changes that have taken place, what remains to be done, and what role policy can play.

The New Alliance was launched in 2012. Nine African countries have so far joined the initiative, which seeks to stimulate private investment in African agriculture, including from countries outside Africa.

The early findings of the work will be presented to a half-day workshop in Accra, planned for November 2013.

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11 November, Brussels: Leaping and Learning report launch

handsAn 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 path ahead.

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Leaping and Learning: Linking smallholders to markets

handsLeaping 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 to 90% of food production in some sub-Saharan African countries. Developing smallholder agriculture can be effective in reducing poverty and hunger in low income countries, but only through sustainable access to markets can poor farmers increase the income from their labour and lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

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Further Reading

Market Coordination

Supermarkets and Standards