Agricultural commercialization, land expansion, and homegrown large-scale farmers: Insights from Ghana

Type Journal Article
Title Agricultural commercialization, land expansion, and homegrown large-scale farmers: Insights from Ghana
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
The past decade has seen several African countries increasing their agricultural growth, a trend largely
underpinned by increases in land area cultivated instead of productivity increases. Meanwhile, scholars
debate whether Africa should pursue a strategy of large-scale or smallholder farms, paying little attention
to a special group of smallholder farmers who have transitioned to become medium- and large-scale
farmers. This study, therefore, begins to analyze this group of farmers, using qualitative data from indepth
interviews and focus group discussions in Ghana. We analyze their characteristics, ingredients of
farm-size expansion, and commercialization. Numerous insights are gained and hypotheses formulated
for future research. One important insight is that with the right attitude, exposure, and discipline, it is
possible for smallholder farmers to increase their farm size and commercialize regardless of initial farm
enterprise choice. However, to transition, initial farm size and farming system appear critical, with
farmers in areas of low population density and flat topography more likely to acquire larger farming land.
The transition, however, occurs gradually over 20 to 30 years, with mean annual land acquisition rates
ranging from 0.3 to 24.3 acres per year. In the transition process, large- and medium-scale farmers are
found to increase their use of modern farm inputs (such as fertilizer and high-yielding seed varieties) and
agricultural technologies (such as tractors and processing machinery) and appear more productive than
smallholder farmers. Additional quantitative analyses using representative survey data are, however,
needed to substantiate the observed qualitative patterns and to further understand the trajectories of farm
size expansion and the implications for agricultural productivity and commercialization.

Related studies