Changes in Ghanaian farming systems: stagnation or a quiet transformation?

Type Journal Article - Agriculture and Human Values
Title Changes in Ghanaian farming systems: stagnation or a quiet transformation?
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Page numbers 1-26
This research was designed to understand better the patterns of agricultural intensification and
transformation occurring in Africa South of the Sahara using the Ghanaian case. The paper examines
changes in farming systems and the role of various endogenous and exogenous factors in driving the
conversion of arable lands to agricultural uses in four villages within two agroecologically distinct zones
of Ghana: the Guinea Savannah and Transition zones. Using essentially historical narratives and landcover
maps supplemented with quantitative data at regional levels, the research shows that farming has
intensified in the villages, while farmers have increased their farm size in response to factors such as
population growth, market access, and changing rural lifestyle. The overall trend suggests a gradual move
toward intensification through increasing use of labor-saving technologies rather than land-saving
inputs—a pattern that contrasts with Asia’s path to its Green Revolution. The findings in this paper
provide evidence of the dynamism occurring in African farming systems; hence, they point toward a
departure from stagnation narratives that have come to prevail in the debate on agricultural transformation
and intensification in Africa South of the Sahara. We conclude that it is essential for future research to
expand the scope of this work, while policies should focus on lessons that can be learned from these
historical processes of genuine change.

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