IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Agricultural commercialization and nutrition revisited: Empirical evidence from three African countries


  • Carletto, Calogero
  • Corral, Paul
  • Guelfi, Anita


The transition from subsistence to commercial agriculture is key for economic growth. But what are the consequences for nutritional outcomes? The evidence to date has been scant and inconclusive. This study contributes to the debate by revisiting two prevailing wisdoms: (a) market participation by African smallholders remains low; and (b) the impact of commercialization on nutritional outcomes is generally positive. Using nationally representative data from three African countries, the analysis reveals high levels of commercialization by even the poorest and smallest landholders, with rates of market participation as high as 90%. Female farmers participate less, but tend to sell larger shares of their production, conditional on participation. Second, we find little evidence of a positive relationship between commercialization and nutritional status. As countries and international agencies prioritize the importance of nutrition-sensitive agriculture, better understanding of the transmission channels between crop choices and nutritional outcomes should remain a research priority.

Suggested Citation

  • Carletto, Calogero & Corral, Paul & Guelfi, Anita, 2017. "Agricultural commercialization and nutrition revisited: Empirical evidence from three African countries," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 106-118.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:67:y:2017:i:c:p:106-118
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2016.09.020

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carletto, Calogero & de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 1999. "Sustainability in the Diffusion of Innovations: Smallholder Nontraditional Agro-Exports in Guatemala," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(2), pages 345-369, January.
    2. Kaminski, Jonathan & Christiaensen, Luc, 2014. "Post-harvest loss in Sub-Saharan Africa -- what do farmers say ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6831, The World Bank.
    3. Maxwell, Simon & Fernando, Adrian, 1989. "Cash crops in developing countries: The issues, the facts, the policies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 17(11), pages 1677-1708, November.
    4. Carletto, Calogero & Kirk, Angeli & Winters, Paul C. & Davis, Benjamin, 2010. "Globalization and Smallholders: The Adoption, Diffusion, and Welfare Impact of Non-Traditional Export Crops in Guatemala," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 814-827, June.
    5. Strasberg, Paul J. & Jayne, Thomas S. & Yamano, Takashi & Nyoro, James K. & Karanja, Daniel David & Strauss, John, 1999. "Effects of Agricultural Commercialization on Food Crop Input Use and Productivity in Kenya," Food Security International Development Working Papers 54675, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    6. Lev, Larry, 1981. "The Effect Of Cash Cropping On Food Consumption Adequacy Among The Meru Of Northern Tanzania," Graduate Research Masters Degree Plan B Papers 11018, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    7. Calogero Carletto & Talip Kilic & Angeli Kirk, 2011. "Nontraditional crops, traditional constraints: The longā€term welfare impacts of export crop adoption among Guatemalan smallholders," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 42, pages 61-76, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ruel, Marie T. & Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Balagamwala, Mysbah, 2017. "Nutrition-sensitive agriculture: What have we learned and where do we go from here?:," IFPRI discussion papers 1681, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

    More about this item


    Agricultural commercialization; Cash crops; Nutrition; Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:67:y:2017:i:c:p:106-118. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.