Written by, Milu Muyanga, Adebayo Aromolaran, Thomas Jayne, Saweda Liverpool-Tasie, Titus Awokuse, Adesoji Adelaja
There is evidence to show that there has been a transition regarding the structure of land ownership in Africa, particularly a rise in the number of commercialised medium-scale farms (MSFs) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The objective of this study was to determine whether the growth of MSFs promotes agricultural commercialisation in SSA, and the brief presents the preliminary results of the first round of data analysis collected through the survey. Emphasis is placed on the characteristics of these emergent MSFs, the nature of the structural changes that produce them, and how they potentially influence the welfare of small-scale farms in Nigeria. The results of the brief are divided into the current topics: Pathways into MSF commercialisation, land access and use, farm production and assets, interaction between MSFs and SSFs, and agricultural commercialisation.
The importance of agriculture to the Ethiopian economy is underlined by the country’s forthright promotion of investment in agriculture since the turn of the century, but how effective has this investment really been? This brief summarises the findings and conclusions of the APRA study ‘Policy approaches to business investment in agricultural commercialisation in Ethiopia’. It then looks at the main drivers of agribusiness investment, usefulness of the tax privilege system, the effectiveness of agricultural growth programmes led by donors and non-profit organisations. The brief also addresses whether or not the enforcement of rules and closure of loopholes can prevent the misuse of tax privileges.
Research Note: Value Chain Participants in Smallholder Commercialisation in Mvurwi: Emerging Business RelationsAugust 29, 2019 / APRA research note
Written by, Vine Mutyasira, Tanaka Murimbarimba and Walter Mushayiwa
Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector has experienced radical transformation following a series of land reform programs and an economic meltdown that started in 2000. The implementation of the Fast Track Land Reform Program (FTLRP) led to widespread disruptions in the sophisticated input supply system, altered agrarian relations and generally caused changes in the functioning of input and commodity markets (Scoones et al., 2018). Severe macroeconomic instability – characterised by high interest rates, shortages of foreign currency and hyperinflation – created an unfavourable environment for private sector participation in the input markets (Mano, Sukume and Rugube, 2003). While the government has attempted to solve problems in the input supply sector through several support and financial packages (Gono, 2008; RBZ 2006), the interventions generally lacked sustainability and the majority of the smallholder farmers still failed to access the critical inputs. Smallholder farmers have often faced challenges in accessing agricultural inputs such as improved seed, chemical fertilisers, veterinary drugs, agricultural mechanisation equipment, as well as agrochemicals such as herbicides and pesticides. These challenges lead to low produce quality, poor yields and general reduction in the area cultivated. Agricultural commodity marketing challenges have also affected the viability of agricultural intensification and limited prospects for agricultural commercialisation among smallholder farmers.
APRA Brief 19: Agribusiness Investment in Agricultural Commercialisation in Ghana: Rethinking Policy IncentivesAugust 13, 2019 / APRA Briefs
Written by Joseph Teye
Ghana’s recent image as a peaceful and stable country has provided an attractive environment for foreign investors to do business in, reflected by numerous programmes implemented by Ghana and its partners which aim to strengthen foreign investment, particularly in the agricultural sector. However, there is still a lack of understanding of how Ghanaian businesses respond to such incentive packages, as well as the detrimental effect of the barriers to investment. This APRA brief examines the most important factors behind investment in the Ghanaian agricultural sector, the limits of financial incentives and provides a series of recommendations for the government in Ghana to address.
The concept of technology adoption (along with its companions, diffusion and scaling) is commonly used to design development interventions, to frame impact evaluations and to inform decision-making about new investments in development-oriented agricultural research. However, adoption simplifies and mischaracterises what happens during processes of technological change. In all but the very simplest cases, it is likely to be inadequate to capture the complex reconfiguration of social and technical components of a technological practice or system. We review the insights of a large and expanding literature, from various disciplines, which has deepened understanding of technological change as an intricate and complex sociotechnical reconfiguration, situated in time and space. We explain the problems arising from the inappropriate use of adoption as a framing concept and propose an alternative conceptual framework for understanding and evaluating technological change. The new approach breaks down technology change programmes into four aspects: propositions, encounters, dispositions and responses. We begin to sketch out how this new framework could be operationalised
Written by, Milu Muyanga, Adebayo Aromolaran, Thomas Jayne, Saweda Liverpool-Tasie, Titus Awokuse andAdesoji Adelaja
Evidence is mounting that the rise of medium-scale investor farms and associated changes in the distribution of farm sizes are occurring in many African countries. These changes in the distribution of farm sizes are creating important and wide-ranging impacts at all stages of agricultural value chains. However, these effects remain poorly understood and only examined in a small number of countries to date. A better understanding of the effects of changing farm size distributions are urgently needed to guide policies aimed at achieving agricultural commercialisation and broader economic transformation objectives. This paper provides improved evidence for policies designed to support equitable and poverty-reducing agricultural commercialisation in Nigeria.
Working Paper 25: Building Livelihoods: Young People and Agricultural Commercialisation in Africa: Zimbabwe Country StudyJune 26, 2019 / Working Papers
Written by Easther Chigumira
This paper is concerned with how young people in the Mvurwi Farming Area in Zimbabwe engage with or are affected by agricultural commercialisation. Mvurwi’s commercialised rural economy offers opportunities for young people to engage in a range of activities as producers, on-farm and off-farm wage workers, and/or as business operators, which allows them to accumulate a range of assets including residential plots, investment in education, household goods, vehicles, and business operations. The study findings show an agile and determined group of young men and women who have consciously turned to the rural economy for a myriad of economic activities to augment revenue streams. Nevertheless, their livelihood opportunities are vulnerable to a number of hazards and, as a result, young people adopt a ‘ducking and diving’ approach to navigate the structural, physical, and individual hurdles or hazards that they encounter in a bid to forge a living within this vibrant rural economy.
Working Paper 24: Building Livelihoods: Young People and Agricultural Commercialisation: Tanzania Country StudyMarch 28, 2019 / Working Papers
This paper reports on a study of how young people engage in the rural economy in an area where there is a significant level of agricultural commercialisation. The objective was to develop an understanding of the steps and pathways with which particular groups of young people seek to construct livelihoods in or around these hotspots, and the outcomes associated with these efforts.
Findings reveal that, as a rural commercialisation hotspot, Dumila offers young people a variety of different income-generating activities. Young migrants are attracted to the area by the availability of farmland, and the opportunities for both business and on-farm employment. Education is seen as a key to formal employment. Social networks (family and friends) also played a very important role in providing both financial and land resources to support their economic activities.
Working Paper 23: Mechanised Agriculture and Medium-Scale Farmers in Northern Ghana: a Success of Market Liberalism or a Product of a Longer History?March 28, 2019 / Working Papers
In recent years, the significant uptake of tractor-ploughing services in Ghana has been heralded as a success of market liberal policies. It has been argued that market reforms have enabled medium-scale farmers to expand their operations and invest in tractors, which they also hire out to smallholders, enabling a significant expansion in agricultural outputs of both categories of farmers. However, this argument is based upon the assumption that, with structural adjustment and the rolling back of state services, past policies on mechanisation disappeared and left no footprints in agrarian production.
This paper explores within a political economy framework, the historical dimensions of mechanisation in Ghana and continuities in the agrarian structure between the period of state-led agriculture and market liberalisation. It rejects simplistic understandings of state policies in neo-patrimonial frameworks that associate the expansion of mechanisation with political patronage and diverting state resources for political support. The existence of expanding private markets in tractors after the imposition of structural adjustment in Ghana suggests otherwise.
A new wave of agricultural commercialisation is being promoted across Africa’s eastern seaboard, by a broad range of influential actors – from international corporations to domestic political and business elites. Growth corridors, linking infrastructure development, mining and agriculture for export, are central to this, and are generating a new spatial politics as formerly remote borders and hinterlands are expected to be transformed through foreign investment and aid projects. In our APRA study, we have been asking: what actually happens on the ground, even when corridors as originally planned are slow to materialise? Do the grand visions play out as expected? Who is involved and who loses out? To answer these questions, APRA research into growth corridors has focused on three key examples: the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), the Lamu Port and South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor, and the Beira and Nacala corridors in Mozambique.
APRA Brief 17: Tractors, Markets and the State: (Dis)continuities in Africa’s Agricultural MechanisationMarch 22, 2019 / APRA Briefs
Agricultural mechanisation has once again become a topical issue in African policymaking, following the reinstatement of agriculture in the growth and development agenda for the continent since the turn of the century. But the contribution of mechanisation to agricultural growth and food security and, more broadly, an inclusive and sustainable development trajectory is not linear, and the debate around desirable types of mechanisation and role of the state (versus markets) in the process is far from settled. Drawing on research in Ghana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, this brief offers an overview of recent trends in Africa’s agricultural mechanisation and of how the topic has been handled in the policy debate and highlights findings from the three country studies that illustrate how state-sponsored or farmer-led mechanisation are enmeshed in broader processes of agrarian change.
APRA Brief 16: A Historical Analysis of Rice Commercialisation in Ethiopia_The Case of the Fogera PlainMarch 12, 2019 / APRA Briefs
This brief presents a historical analysis of rice commercialisation and its impacts on local livelihoods and rural economies in Ethiopia, drawing insights from the experience of the Fogera Plain in the Amhara Region.
Analysing the pathways that young people employ to get started in commercial agriculture should provide valuable and policy-relevant insights about opportunities and challenges for Africa’s rural youth. This paper presents a summary of findings on how young people engage with or are affected by agricultural intensification and commercialisation in Techiman, North District, Ghana in order to better understand the pathways that particular groups of young people seek to construct livelihoods in or around agricultural commercialisation hotspots, and the outcomes associated with these efforts.
Written by Lidia Cabral.
This paper considers the current policy debate on agricultural mechanisation in Africa, situating this in the context of long-standing disputes on appropriate technology and roles for the state. Present calls for mechanisation, and tractorisation in particular, by national governments and international development agencies emerge in a different context, where there are new sources of technology and where development discourse emphasises sustainability and the role of the private sector. Yet, as before, recipes for agricultural mechanisation remain contentious and alliances between aid and business are once again driving policy. This time, however, Southern powers like China, India and Brazil are competing for space. The paper highlights the contentious nature of mechanisation in scholarly debate, policymaking and international development cooperation between North and South.
In addition to this paper’s focus on the broader politics of mechanisation, the policy study also looks at the experiences with mechanisation in three selected countries – Ghana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe – all of which have been recently supported by SSC with Brazil, China and India. While the country cases undertake an in-depth analysis of the mechanisation trajectories of the three African countries and their domestic political economy, this paper takes a broader view of the history of mechanisation in Africa and its recurrent debates, and situates the return to tractors in the context of the new aid–business nexus.
Written by Toendepi Shonhe.
This paper examines postcolonial agricultural mechanisation in Zimbabwe in the context of recent land reforms. It pays particular attention to the central role played by state-capital relations – with notable links to international finance – in shaping a resurgence in tractor usage following Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP). Moreover, the economy-wide crisis triggered by land reform shaped the emerging agricultural mechanisation.
This study examines the decline in tractor supply by the government, and the growth and dominance of large-scale commercial farms as a source of second-hand tractors for smallholder and medium-scale farmers. This paper relies on archival sources as well as empirical data collected in Mvurwi through surveys, focus group discussions, tracker studies and in-depth interviews. While the tractors imported by the government from Brazil on concessional terms have become a major source of tractor services for the resettled farmers in Mvurwi, resettled farmers are also reinvesting proceeds from the sale of agricultural commodities predominantly in agricultural mechanisation, creating a new source for tractor hiring services and agrarian transformation. Although patronage politics has shaped the distribution of tractors and the establishment of tractor service cooperatives, there is no evidence of concrete political gains resulting from these investments.
Working Paper 20: Building Livelihoods: Young People and Agricultural Commercialisation in Africa: Ghana Country StudyMarch 11, 2019 / Working Papers
Written by Thomas Yeboah.
This paper is concerned with how rural young people in Ghana engage with or are affected by two processes closely associated with rural and economic transformation – agricultural intensification and agricultural commercialisation. The objective was to develop a better understanding of steps and pathways by which particular groups of young people seek to construct livelihoods in or around agricultural commercialisation hotspots, and the outcomes associated with these efforts. The research reported in this paper draws on in-depth interviews conducted with 35 rural youth in the Tuobodom and Adutwie communities in the Techiman North District of Brong Ahafo Region, Ghana, an area that we define as a ‘commercialisation hotspot’.
The overall conclusion of the study is that, whether or not a young person wants to be there, being in an area of intensive agricultural commercialisation compared to one with limited commercialisation is probably as good as it gets.
Working Paper 19: Zinc Roof of Mango Tree? Tractors, Modernisation and Agrarian Transformation in MozambiqueMarch 11, 2019 / Working Papers
Written by Lidia Cabral.
This paper analyses the design and implementation of Mozambique’s National Agriculture Mechanisation Programme and wider mechanisation policy, looking at the models devised for service provision, actors involved, their motivations and expectations, and access to machinery by the small-scale ‘family sector’. The paper also discusses the role played by mechanisation in processes of agrarian change and social differentiation in rural Mozambique and, specifically, its part in efforts by the state to nurture a modern agribusiness entrepreneur.
An investment or growth corridor is a geographical area of a country or group of countries surrounding a major transport route, which supports economic activity either end of, and along, the route. Drawing on APRA’s work studying growth corridors in East Africa, this brief focuses on the Lamu Port and South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor, presenting an overview of the corridor’s infrastructural plan and its place within the region’s politics, as well as its implications for those who live and work along the corridor’s planned route – including smallholders, fishers and pastoralists.
Download: APRA Policy Brief 14
Malawi is a predominantly agrarian economy. With around 85 percent of the country’s population relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, it is estimated that the sector makes up as much as 35 percent of GDP, 80 percent of export earnings, and 70 percent of total rural income. Underpinning both Malawi’s industrial and manufacturing sectors, agriculture is integral to any concerted effort aimed at achieving inclusive growth, and therefore lies at the heart of Malawi’s political economy. This brief, which is based on a longer paper1, examines the evolution and political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi since the 1960s, from both a historical and a contemporary perspective.
Download: APRA Brief 13
This brief seeks to identify key factors that influence the strength and composition of coalitions in favour of and against policies that promote agricultural commercialisation, or that influence the commercialisation trajectory that unfolds within a country or sector. It also recognises the importance of ideas and interests in determining which policies are adopted and implemented. Specifically, the brief seeks to illustrate the influence of three sets of factors on agricultural commercialisation, and their interaction with one another. The three sets of factors are (1) the relationships between politicians and rural citizens arising from the domestic political settlement; (2) geographical factors; and (3) the influence of international actors.
Download: APRA Policy Brief 12
Working Paper 18: A Historical Analysis of Rice Commercialisation in Ethiopia: the Case of the Fogera PlainJanuary 25, 2019 / Working Papers
This paper presents a historical analysis of rice commercialisation and its impacts on local livelihoods and rural economies in Ethiopia, drawing insights from the experience of the Fogera Plain, a dynamic farming area in Amhara Region to the west of Lake Tana. This background paper begins with a brief overview of the history of rice introduction into the country, assesses the extent of agro-ecological suitability for the production of the crop, and then examines the current status of rice research and development based on a review of relevant literature and secondary data. This is followed by a presentation of the results from a reconnaissance study on rice commercialisation carried out by the authors and local partners in the Fogera Plain during 2017–18, which considered: (1) the changing dynamics of the farming system, trends in rice production, processing, and marketing practices and support services, and (2) rice commercialisation and the observed livelihood outcomes. The conclusion provides a brief summary of the key trends and findings, along with a list of emerging research questions.
APRA Brief 11: The Political Economy of Agricultural Commercialisation in Ethiopia: Discourses, Actors and Structural ImpedimentsNovember 5, 2018 / APRA Briefs Publications
This brief examines the political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Ethiopia, by analysing the changing political landscape and electoral trends spanning the past three decades. It gives an overview of the emphasis placed on agriculture, and the promotion of agricultural commercialisation, across Ethiopia’s past three regimes: imperial, military, and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). The brief then addresses the state of agricultural commercialisation in Ethiopia with reference to the case study of teff production. Finally, the brief examines the structural impediments to agricultural commercialisation, with a number of suggestions for addressing the challenges identified.
Download: APRA Policy Brief 11
This brief presents a summary of key issues in research on women’s empowerment, drawn from an APRA working paper commissioned to support the design of APRA’s research on pathways to agricultural commercialisation in Africa. In the context of African agriculture, as women move along different pathways of commercialisation, the source of their disempowerment may shift from local to more global actors and factors, and the means of empowerment towards more collective and political processes. Researching the effectiveness of different pathways of agricultural commercialisation to empowering women and girls, therefore, requires an approach which explores the relationships between global and local, shifting dynamics as women move into and up global value chains, and changing gender relations in a specific local context.
APRA Brief 9: Partnerships, Platforms and Policies: Strengthening Farmer Capacity to Harness Technological Innovation for Agricultural CommercialisationNovember 1, 2018 / APRA Briefs Publications
This brief uses three STI revolution storylines based on case studies from Ethiopia, Zambia, and Ghana to highlight the enabling factors that make STI a vehicle for agricultural commercialisation. The storylines based on the three case studies were identified considering their relevance to the different types of farming (small-, medium- and large-scale), the importance of commercialisation linked to STI, and the diversity of production systems.
Download: APRA Policy Brief 9
This brief presents a critical discussion of the political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Zimbabwe, focusing on the post-2000 period – when major land redistribution brought about dramatic agrarian structural transformation in the country. Understanding shifts in production and commodity marketing, and how these have had an impact on commercialisation patterns, helps to reveal how power, state practice, and capital all influence accumulation for the different groups of farmers in divergent settlement models.
This brief is based on a longer working paper, which examines the political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Ghana from 2000–2018. The relationship between a changing political landscape and agricultural policy in Ghana is neither fully understood nor explored; this brief argues that prevailing agricultural commercialisation policies are selected by powerful policy actors, who provide useful resources for policy implementation and whose narratives are consistent with policymakers interests. The brief therefore advocates a strengthening of civil society groups to ensure that pro-poor policies are put in place in Ghana.
Given the highly climate-sensitive character of agricultural production, climate change has obvious and important ramifications for agricultural commercialisation, which in turn has a bearing on poverty, gender empowerment, and food and nutrition security. The nature and extent of climate change implications for agricultural commercialisation will depend on: the magnitude of the climate impacts that farmers have to deal with; and, the extent to which sustainable intensification processes can be pursued in ways which strengthen, rather than weaken, adaptive capacity and resilience in the face of climate change. This brief provides a summary of a longer working paper, which offers a review of recent literature on the implications of climate change for agricultural commercialisation and APRA’s research in this area.
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.
Using evidence gathered in Asia and Latin America, this brief draws out lessons in smallholder commercialisation that may be instructive for sub-Saharan Africa. The brief provides a summary of a longer report on agricultural production, as well as a review of recent literature on commercialisation in Asia and Latin America. For Asia and Latin America, the review considers the prevalence of smallholder farming, trends seen in the growth of production, and the forms and processes that smallholder commercialisation has taken. Some have argued that Brazil’s vast farms, worked by machines using advanced technology, are the best way to transform African agriculture. But this model is only feasible for countries with abundant land, plenty of capital and little labour. However, Asia – with its small farms, abundant labour and limited capital – may prove more instructive for contemporary sub-Saharan Africa.
The first in our series of APRA briefs gives an overview of ‘agricultural commercialisation’ — it gives a brief analysis of the various players and stakeholders involved, and situates the broader concept of agricultural commercialisation within a specifically African context. In particular, this brief runs through key terms and concepts that are central to APRA’s work, and gives a more detailed examination of agriculture’s engagement with and influence on the process of commercialisation, across differing levels of scale (smallholders, medium-scale and large-scale farmers). Lastly, the brief presents a succinct breakdown of the various measurements used to calculate the extent of commercialisation within a given area.
Written by Toendepi Shonhe
Debates on Zimbabwe’s agricultural development have centred on different framings of agriculture viability and land redistribution, which are often antagonistic. Yet, emerging evidence of agricultural commercialisation pathways shows complex and differentiated deepening and stagnations across settlement models. Normative– political constructions of ‘good’, ‘modern’ and ‘progressive’, as advocated by large-scale farmers and some bureaucrats, are countered by proponents for redistribution, mainly the landless rural peasants, keen on social and economic justice as well as democratic land ownership. Across the divide, commercialisation of agriculture is seen as efficient and poverty-reducing. This paper explores how these contrasting debates have played out in Zimbabwe over time, and what interests are aligned with different positions. The paper locates the discussion in a critical examination of the politics of agrarian change and presents a political economy and policy process review of winners and losers in commercialisation.
Written by Steve Wiggins, Rachel Sabates-Wheeler and Joseph Yaro
APRA’s cross-cutting theme on rural transitions, nonfarm rural economies and rural–urban links intends to address two sets of issues. One concerns the way in which commercialisation of agriculture interacts with the development of the rural non-farm economy (RNFE), the links between rural and urban areas and, indeed, overall processes of economic growth and transformation. It is expected that growth of agriculture and better links between urban and rural areas can create profound transformations of the rural economy. Just how this takes place depends on several factors, including the nature of agricultural growth and commercialisation (Hall et al. 2017), the nature of urbanisation (Gollin, Jedwab and Vollrath 2016, rural location (Wiggins and Proctor 2001), infrastructure (Allen et al. 2015), the scale of towns (Baker 1990), and social relations (Potts 2000).
Written by Andrew Newsham, Sarah Kohnstamm, Lars Otto Naess and Joanes Atela
This paper presents a review of recent literature on the implications of climate change for agricultural commercialisation, focusing chiefly on sub-Saharan Africa, and incorporating evidence, where relevant, from around the world. Climate change is one of the crosscutting themes of the Department for International Development (DFID)-funded Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) consortium.1 APRA is intended to produce new data and insights into agricultural commercialisation processes, and their impacts and outcomes with regard to rural poverty, empowerment of women and girls, and food and nutrition security. In addition to outlining our rationale and aims, this introduction sets out (a) the approach we have taken to classifying climate impacts upon agricultural commercialisation, and (b) the structure.
Working Paper 10: Partnerships, Platforms and Policies: Strengthening Farmer Capacity to Harness Technological Innovation for Agricultural CommercialisationMarch 13, 2018 / Working Papers
Written by Hannington Odame and Dawit Alemu
Innovation capacity presupposes capacity to harness science, technology and innovation (STI) for agricultural commercialisation. Agricultural commercialisation requires an enabling policy environment on STI issues such as the impact of climate change, nutrition, improved seed and inputs, emerging technologies, infrastructure, research and extension, and financing. These issues are consistent with the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA) 2024 (African Union Commission undated). This paper uses three STI revolution storylines (case studies on rice, information and communications technology (ICT) and cocoa) to highlight the enabling factors that make STI a vehicle for agricultural commercialisation.
Working Paper 8: Social Difference and Women’s Empowerment in the Context of the Commercialisation of African AgricultureJanuary 25, 2018 / Working Papers
Written by Helen Dancer and Naomi Hossain
This paper was commissioned to support the research design activities of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Consortium, generating new evidence on pathways to agricultural commercialisation, on the theme of social difference and women’s empowerment. First, the paper explores methodological approaches and key concepts that underpin the analysis of social difference, as people move along different pathways to commercialisation. It analyses social difference in terms of gender, age, wealth, ethnicity and indigeneity, while placing special emphasis on APRA’s focus of women’s empowerment. Second, the paper draws on three key outcome criteria – which we identify as power relations, structures and mechanisms, and distribution of resources – to analyse APRA’s hypotheses and research questions through a lens of social difference. Third, the paper explores avenues for inquiry at the level of household and community, sectoral changes and political-economic factors, bringing attention to the interconnections between individual, social structures and wider political-economic developments, and makes recommendations for research questions in these areas.
Written by Steve Wiggins
This paper aims to draw out lessons from experiences of smallholder commercialisation in Asia and Latin America that may be instructive for sub-Saharan Africa. It addresses the following questions: To what extent has agriculture in Asia and Latin America been commercialised? What forms of commercialisation have been seen? What scale of farms have been able to commercialise? For smallholders, what kinds of supply chains have been created to link them to markets, as well as to suppliers of inputs and services? What have been the drivers of commercialisation of smallholders? How important have public policies been in shaping the processes seen? What have been the outcomes of smallholder commercialisation? How well-distributed have been the processes and their outcomes? Has smallholder commercialisation contributed to broad-based agricultural and rural development? Have any groups suffered losses from commercialisation by others?
Working Paper 6: What is Agricultural Commercialisation, Why is it Important, and how do we Measure it?December 19, 2017 / Working Papers
Written by Colin Poulton
Agricultural commercialisation occurs 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. It is an integral and critical part of the process of structural transformation (see section 1.1), through which a growing economy transitions, over a period of several decades or more: from one where the majority of the population live in rural areas and depend directly or indirectly on semi-subsistence agriculture for an important part of their livelihood to one where the majority of the population live in urban areas and depend on employment in manufacturing or service industries for the major part of their livelihood.
Written by Colin Poulton
The objective of this review is to highlight key features of the political landscape that are considered to affect both the prospects for and the outcomes of agricultural commercialisation in Tanzania. It will highlight key dynamics and actors that subsequent empirical work within the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) programme should pay attention to.
Working Paper 4: Gender and Rural Livelihoods: Agricultural Commercialisation and Farm Non-Farm DiversificationDecember 19, 2017 / Working Papers
Written by Agnes Andersson Djurfeldt
This paper uses a cross-country comparative perspective in analysing gendered patterns of agricultural commercialisation and rural livelihoods. A first research question addresses whether female farm managers are in fact excluded from agricultural commercialisation (and by implication incomes) when compared to their male counterparts. Whether the sources of this exclusion can be found in the functioning of markets themselves or factors inherent to the household constitute an important sub-question. Secondly, the paper analyses if and how access to non-farm incomes varies by gender and by extension, whether incomes from the non-farm sector can compensate for poorer access to agricultural incomes among female farm managers. Thirdly, how the prospects vary for commercialisation and livelihood diversification among the two different types of femaleheaded households (de facto and de jure) will be considered. Finally, the income-generation patterns of those women who live in male-headed households will be addressed. The analysis in what follows will be guided by these questions, and positioned in relation to existing theoretical and empirical research frontiers and gaps.
Written by Agnes Andersson Djurfeldt
This paper takes a village-level perspective, drawing on an earlier study that used the same data, which suggested that patterns of pro-poor agricultural growth were highly spatially concentrated to particular villages. Qualitative fieldwork in these villages has since aimed to identify any common institutional explanations for such growth, viz. gendered rights to land and markets. This paper follows up on the trends found in the quantitative data and aims to operationalise the concept of pro-poor agricultural growth to distinguish between patterns of longer-term growth (from 2002 onwards) and more recent patterns of growth found since 2008. The purpose is to compare such patterns to shed light on the drivers of commercialisation in different village settings and in different time periods, to identify which markets and which crops hold the largest promise for pro-poor agricultural growth.
Working Paper 2: Food Security, Nutrition and Commercialisation in Sub-Saharan Africa – a Synthesis of Afrint FindingsOctober 16, 2017 / Working Papers
Written by Agnes Andersson Djurfeldt
The paper uses data from the Afrint database covering roughly 2,100 smallholders in six African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, surveyed in 2002, 2008 and 2013. It addresses key aspects of food and nutrition security and their linkages to commercialisation. Following a presentation of the data at the country level, regional comparisons will be made, discussing the linkages between food security outcomes and particular commercialisation pathways for the final wave of panel data (2008–13).