Analysing the pathways to agricultural commercialisation in sub-Saharan Africa
Which pathways to agricultural commercialisation are the most effective in empowering women, reducing rural poverty and improving food and nutrition security in Sub-Saharan Africa?
Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) is a six-year research programme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) which aims to address this question through in-depth, interdisciplinary, comparative research across nine countries. Through this work, APRA is generating high-quality evidence and policy-relevant insights on more inclusive pathways to agricultural commercialisation.
With headquarters at the Institute of Development Studies, APRA will run from 2016 to 2022 with the generous support of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).
AREAS OF OPERATION
This paper uses panel data and qualitative interviews from southwestern Ghana to analyse farmers’ heterogeneous oil palm marketing decisions and the effect on household welfare. We show that despite the supposed benefits that smallholders could derive from participation in global agribusiness value chains via formal contracts, such arrangements are rare although two of Ghana’s ‘big four’ industrial oil palm companies are located in the study area. In the absence of formal contracts, farmers self-select into four main oil palm marketing channels (OPMCs). These OPMCs are associated with varying levels of welfare, with processing households and those connected to industrial companies by verbal contracts being better off. Furthermore, own-processing of palm fruits is shown to reduce gender gaps in household welfare. We also unearth community and household level factors that hamper or facilitate participation in remunerative OPMCs. These results have implications for development policy and practice related to inclusive agricultural commercialization.
Commercialisation remains a key policy aim for governments across Africa, for obvious reasons. It is seen as a way of: a) increasing farmers’ incomes and thereby reducing poverty; b) transforming the agricultural sector and; c) improving resilience capacities in the face of climate change.
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