Analysing the pathways to agricultural commercialisation in sub-Saharan Africa

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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).


Image by S.Kilungu. Licensed under CC 2.0 Generic


Journal Article: Heterogeneous Market Participation Channels and Household Welfare
January 8, 2024

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.


Changing land and labour relations on Ghana’s cocoa farms
May 20, 2024

Pioneering cocoa farmers in Ghana used and adapted existing social norms and family networks to acquire large areas of land and the labour to farm it. The resulting development of cocoa farming was a remarkable story of African innovation and enterprise that made the ‘Gold Coast’, as it was known then, into one of the most prosperous parts of Africa by the mid-twentieth century. This blog explores how access to land and labour for cocoa production has changed over time in the face of a diminishing forest frontier – and weakening reliance upon the extended family network.


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Regional Hubs

Future Agricultures has a diverse network of partners in Africa and worldwide, working together on research, communications and policy engagement.



John Thompson, CEO: j.thompson@ids.ac.uk
Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Research Director, UK: r.sabates-wheeler@ids.ac.uk
Oliver Burch, Programme Manager: o.burch@ids.ac.uk
Lesley White, Impact, Communications and Engagement Officer: l.white@ids.ac.uk
Amrita Saha, Post-doctoral Research Officer: a.saha@ids.ac.uk


Hannington Odame, Regional Coordinator: hsodame@gmail.com


Cyriaque Hakizimana, Regional Coordinator: chakizimana@plaas.org.za
Ruth Hall, Regional Coordinator: rhall@uwc.ac.za


Joseph Yaro, Regional Coordinator: yarojoe@yahoo.com

Image by S.Kilungu. Licensed under CC 2.0 Generic