APRA Working Paper 87: The Political Economy of Agricultural Commercialisation: Insights from Crop Value Chain Studies in Sub-Saharan Africa

Written by: Blessings Chinsinga and Lars Otto Naess

This paper is a synthesis of findings from 11 value chains case studies in six countries across sub- Saharan Africa, carried out as part of the APRA programme during 2020–21. The countries and their respective value chains case studies included: Ethiopia (rice), Ghana (oil palm and cocoa), Malawi (groundnuts), Nigeria (maize, cocoa and rice), Tanzania (rice and sunflower) and Zimbabwe (tobacco and maize). A political economy analysis (PEA) framework was used to examine the performance of the selected value chains in the six countries. The starting point for the studies was that the success of the value chains is driven by a combination of several factors, in particular related to the relative importance of a crop in the country’s political settlement, the relative influence of different actors, and, ultimately, its ability to generate and distribute rents. In this synthesis, we ask the following questions: (1) What are the drivers and obstacles to commercialisation in the value chains? (2) What are the key factors affecting rents and outcomes, and for whom? And, (3) what are the future prospects for the value chains?

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