This paper examines the political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi over the past three or so decades both in a contemporary and historical perspective. Drawing insights from Keeley and Scoones (2003) and Chinsinga and Poulton (2014), the underlying argument of this paper is that the twists and turns in the country’s agricultural commercialisation processes have been shaped and influenced to a very large extent by the changing configurations of political elites and their underlying interests, incentives and motivations, including the influence of donors, especially since the transition to democracy in May 1994.
Much of the existing literature on the political economy of agricultural policy in Africa, including studies by the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) and Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA), adopts a case study approach to explore the dynamics of policymaking and implementation. These studies highlight numerous local, national and international factors that influence policy outcomes, but this raises the question as to whether any consistent patterns can be discerned across cases. This paper focuses on the policy that influences the process of agricultural commercialisation. Poulton (2017a: 4) defines agricultural commercialisation as occurring ‘when agricultural enterprises and/or the agricultural sector as a whole rely increasingly on the market for the sale of produce and for the acquisition of production inputs, including labour’.
APRA seeks to generate new evidence on agricultural commercialisation pathways in rapidly changing rural contexts in Africa, assessing outcomes in relation to poverty, women’s empowerment and food and nutrition security. In Malawi, APRA intends to study the role of groundnut commercialisation in promoting different livelihoods using a tracker study in groundnut farming areas, based on data collected in the 2006/07 agricultural season (School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) et al., 2008). The 2006/07 dataset is the benchmark or baseline that will be used as a reference point in the present APRA study. This study intends to track every member of the households in the 2006/07 dataset in Malawi’s Mchinji and Ntchisi districts, to understand the role of agricultural commercialisation in their current livelihoods.
This brief is based on a working paper, which seeks to inform future APRA research. In so doing, the brief helps to address debates about the feasibility of developing smallholder agriculture through commercialisation. In particular, it seeks to address the following broad questions: How has thinking about agricultural development evolved since 2010? How has the context for smallholder commercialisation evolved in this period? Second, the brief asks: how much growth has been seen in agriculture and agricultural productivity since 1990? And how much does agricultural growth correlate with changes in national income, poverty and nutrition?
This brief highlights key features of the political landscape that affect the prospects for and the outcomes of agricultural commercialisation in Tanzania. It contends that the evolving nature of Tanzania’s ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), helps to explain observed agricultural policy and performance and sheds light on the current and potential future trajectory of agricultural commercialisation in the country. The brief focuses on the presidency of Jakaya Kikwete (2005 to 2015) and the transition to the presidency of John Magufuli, who succeeded him in 2015.
This brief aims to summarise existing understandings of rural transformation and transitions in Africa. Agricultural development takes place within the wider context of overall economic development. In the process, changes in agriculture — such as the increased commercialisation of farms in general, and smallholdings in particular — interact with changes in the rest of the rural and urban economies. Development therefore usually brings about a structural transformation of the economy, from one dominated by agriculture to one in which manufacturing and services make up the bulk of activity; while the majority of the population become increasingly urban. The brief will focus on four key areas: the rural non-farm economy; rural–urban links; migration out of rural areas; and social protection.
This paper examines the political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Ghana from the year 2000 to 2018. Agriculture is a major economic activity in Ghana, contributing about 20 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employing 42 percent of the economically active population (GSS 2016). Over the past three decades, the agricultural sector averagely grew at about 5 percent per annum, making Ghana’s agricultural sector one of the top performers in Africa, and contributing to poverty reduction and food security (Wiggins and Leturque 2011; Sarpong and Anyidoho 2012).The paper is structured into five sections. Section 2 presents the agricultural policy context which highlights features of the agricultural sector, contribution of agriculture to the economy of Ghana and political changes. Section 3 presents theoretical perspectives that will be relied upon for the analysis, while Section 4 discusses the main policies and how they have been shaped by various narratives, actors and interests. Finally, Section 5 presents the main conclusions from the analysis.
This paper reviews thinking about agricultural development in Africa since 2010, and the record of agricultural development in the continent since 1990. In many respects, the context for agricultural development has changed for the better since 1990. Renewed growth with urbanisation is creating markets for farmers, especially for higher-value produce. The deficit on agricultural trade provides scope for substituting domestic for imported production. The opportunities for increased commercialisation are clear, in domestic and international markets. The means to produce and market more are greater than in the past. The political priority to agricultural development is promising. However, substantial challenges arise in overcoming the disadvantages that smallholders face in rural markets, the need to generate decent jobs for the large youth cohorts stepping into the job market, and making agriculture environmentally sustainable and climate-smart.
Working Paper 14: The Political Economy of Agricultural Commercialisation in Ethiopia: Discourses, Actors and Structural ImpedimentsJuly 30, 2018 / Working Papers
Written by Dawit Alemu and Kassahun Berhanu
This country review aims to identify the key dynamics, actors and associated discourses of agricultural commercialisation in Ethiopia. To this end, we aim to shed light on the forces and factors that influence policy processes and the contexts in which the political and bureaucratic establishments operate. Moreover, we examine the incentives generated by the mode of operation of existing working systems by inducing involved actors to expedite the venture of agricultural commercialisation.