Pro-Poor Agricultural Growth – Village Dynamics and Commercialisation Pathways
Andersson Djurfeldt, Agnes
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This paper takes a village-level perspective, drawing on an earlier study that used the same data, which suggested that patterns of pro-poor agricultural growth were highly spatially concentrated to particular villages. Qualitative fieldwork in these villages has since aimed to identify any common institutional explanations to such growth, viz. gendered rights to land and markets. This paper follows up on the trends found in the quantitative data and aims to operationalise the concept of pro-poor agricultural growth to distinguish between patterns of longerterm growth (from 2002 onwards) and more recent patterns of growth found since 2008. The purpose is to compare such patterns to shed light on the drivers of commercialisation in different village settings and in different time periods, to identify which markets and which crops hold the largest promise for pro-poor agricultural growth. The concept and practice of pro-poor agricultural growth rests on three basic tenets all emanating from a heritage of smallholder-based agricultural development: raising productivity, linking small-scale farmers to output markets, and promoting inclusivity through these interventions. In practice, particular strategies have tended to vary across countries, and also to some extent within countries, although emphasis has commonly been placed on easing smallholder access to farm inputs through various fertiliser subsidy schemes. Less attention has been paid to smallholder commercialisation in the literature, with the assumption often being that small-scale farmers are getting a raw deal at the hands of middlemen, wholesalers and contracting companies (see Sitko and Jayne 2014 for a discussion that points to the pitfalls of such assumptions). At an overarching level, pro-poor agricultural growth perspectives have been questioned both by researchers querying the smallholder agenda as a whole and by scholars taking a critical view of market integration as a source of class-based differentiation within peasant societies. At a very basic level, therefore, the present paper aims to ascertain whether pro-poor growth exists, starting with a few simple empirical questions. Are there villages in which agricultural commercialisation is promoting increased welfare and broad-based inclusion? Does recent growth follow on the heels of longer-term growth, or have growth patterns shifted geographically over time? Which subsectors can explain local-level growth dynamics and do these vary depending on the type of growth (short-term versus more sustained growth)? And finally, what policy implications arise from particular patterns of growth?