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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The pros and cons of commercial farming models in Africa.

The pros and cons of commercial farming models in Africa.Colonialism brought large-scale farming to Africa, promising modernisation and jobs – but often dispossessing people and exploiting workers. Now, after several decades of independence, and with investor interest growing, African governments are once again promoting large plantations and estates. But the new corporate interest in African agriculture has been criticized as a “land grab”. Small-scale farmers, on family land, are still the mainstay of African farming, producing 90% of its food. Their future is increasingly uncertain as the large-scale colonial model returns. To make way for big farms, local people have lost their land. Promises of jobs and other benefits have been slow to materialize, if at all. The search is on for alternatives to big plantations and estates that can bring in private investment without dispossessing local people – and preferably also support people’s livelihoods by creating jobs and strengthening local economies. Two possible models stand out. Contract farming is often touted as an “inclusive business model” that links smallholders into commercial value chains. In these arrangements, smallholder farmers produce cash crops on their own land, as ‘outgrowers’, on contract to agroprocessing companies. see Then there is growth in a new class of “middle farmers”. These are often educated business people and civil servants who are investing money earned elsewhere into medium-scale commercial farms which they own and operate themselves. more