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Smallholders and cont(r)act farming in Africa

Dr Niels Fold  |  Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN)  |  University of Copenhagen |  Denmark

Abstract: Contract farming denotes a situation where agricultural production takes place according to some kind of agreement (‘contract’) between a buyer (often a processor) and a producer of agricultural products. The agreement may cover issues concerning inputs, technical advice, and marketing (price, volume, quality, etc.). Contract farming in Africa is considered by many governments and donors (multilateral and bilateral) as an important tool to increase productivity of agricultural production thereby promoting rural development. However, actual results are mixed and often the ‘contract’ is merely a signal of intentions and serves as a framework for flexible interpretations – both for the buyer and the seller. Research on the impact of contract farming on smallholders in Africa tends to address two interlinked but different questions: welfare effects at household level and wider socio-economic effects at community level. This talk will mainly deal with the latter perspective and discuss empirical results from recent research on topics like trust, capital accumulation, labour, and economic diversification in relation to contract farming schemes in Ghana and Tanzania.