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It's a small world after all: Defining smallholder agriculture in Ghana

  • Chamberlin, Jordan

"Strategies for boosting the agricultural economies of developing countries usually focus on small farms, attempting, for example, to link smallholders with markets through production chain development. However, such strategies often fail to differentiate between different types of small farmers or to investigate the distribution of assets within the group—efforts that are important because unequal distributions of assets can restrict pro-poor growth. Further, strategies to develop production chains favor some small farmers over others (i.e., those already participating in targeted chains and those with relatively more productive assets). Using landholding size as an organizational filter, we performed a basic descriptive analysis of smallholder traits in Ghana, using data from the 2005–2006 Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS5). We found strong inequalities in landholding distributions within Ghana's small-farm sector in all regions of the country. Using a classification of smallholders we derived based on landholding size, we examined a variety of small-farm traits and found that many of the broadly perceived defining characteristics of smallholder agriculture—such as low input use and low market engagement—are negatively correlated with landholding size. The crowding of farms at the smaller end of the small-farm spectrum in Ghana suggests that rural development strategies based on expanding existing market chains will face challenges in connecting with the bulk of small producers, who are less well endowed than average statistics indicate." from authors' abstract

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Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series IFPRI discussion papers with number 823.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fpr:ifprid:823
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  1. Maryann Green & Gastao Lukanu & Steve Worth & Peter Greenfield, 2006. "Use of wealth ranking to analyse factors influencing smallholder farmers' market participation in northern Mozambique," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(5), pages 669-683.
  2. Michael Lipton, 2006. "Can Small Farmers Survive, Prosper, or be the Key Channel to Cut Mass Poverty?," The Electronic Journal of Agricultural and Development Economics, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, vol. 3(1), pages 58-85.
  3. Chamberlin, Jordan & Pender, John & Yu, Bingxin, 2006. "Development domains for Ethiopia: capturing the geographical context of smallholder development options," EPTD discussion papers 159, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  4. Rapsomanikis, George & Sarris, Alexander, 2006. "The Impact of Domestic and International Commodity Price Volatility on Agricultural Income Instability: Ghana, Vietnam and Peru," Working Paper Series DP2006/04, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  5. World Bank, 2003. "Reaching the Rural Poor : A Renewed Strategy for Rural Development," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14084, June.
  6. Jayne, T. S. & Yamano, Takashi & Weber, Michael T. & Tschirley, David & Benfica, Rui & Chapoto, Antony & Zulu, Ballard, 2003. "Smallholder income and land distribution in Africa: implications for poverty reduction strategies," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 253-275, June.
  7. Haggblade, Steven & Hazell, Peter B., 1988. "Prospects for equitable growth in rural sub-Saharan Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8, The World Bank.
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