Commercialisation can be central to agricultural development, with the
promise of contributing to economic growth, with the reduction of
poverty and hunger. Africa has seen many episodes of more commercial
smallholder farming, from the export crop booms in West Africa of the
late nineteenth century to more recent spurts in production of food for
domestic markets. Unfortunately such episodes have not been more
widespread, nor in some cases have they been sustained.
This paper looks at experience of commercialisation in selected parts of
Africa in the late 2000s, to shed light on key questions asked about the
- How do farmers commercialise, which small farmers commercialise and to
what extent, and what are the drivers of change?
- What are the benefits of commercialisation, both directly to farmers,
as well as indirectly to those who may benefit from linkages in the
rural economy that create additional jobs?
- Are there drawbacks? For example, in reduced food security as cash
crops replace food production, increased inequality, further
disadvantage to female farmers, higher risks to vulnerable
smallholders or harm to the environment?
- What policies and programmes lead to commercialisation with desirable
outcomes? What should be the role of governments, donors who assist
them, private enterprise and civil society in promoting favourable
Wiggins, S.; Argwings-Kodhek, G.; Gebreselassie, S.; Asuming-Brempong, S.; Chirwa, E.; Matita, M.M.; Mode, N.; Mutabazi, K. FAC Working Paper 82. Cautious commercialisation. Findings from village studies in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania. Future Agricultures Consortium, Brighton, UK (2014) 39 pp.
FAC Working Paper 82. Cautious commercialisation. Findings from village studies in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania