The unique challenges faced by smallholder farmers call for an innovative, integrated approach to spur investment, productivity, and technology adoption.
Despite recurring predictions that small farms in Africa south of the Sahara (SSA) will soon disappear, they have proved remarkably resilient. Smallholder farms in sub-Saharan Africa (two ha or less) represent 80 percent of all farms andaccount for up to 90 percent of production in some sub-Saharan African countries. More than two thirds of the region’s farm holdings have an average size of less than one hectare. Most of these smallholders either practice subsistence farming or operate largely in local markets due to inadequate links to more lucrative markets at provincial, national, or global levels. As a result, investment, agricultural productivity, and technology adoption all remain low, resulting in a poverty trap.
In the 1960s, the Green Revolution helped transform Asia from a continent of hunger and despair into a regional success story under a similar structure of land ownership. So why can’t such atransformation happen in sub-Saharan Africa?