Agricultural Commercialisation: Lessons from Asia and Latin America
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This paper aims to draw out lessons from experiencesof smallholder commercialisation in Asia and Latin America that may be instructive for sub-Saharan Africa. It addresses the following questions: To what extent has agriculture in Asia and Latin America been commercialised? What forms of commercialisation have been seen? What scale of farms have been able to commercialise? For smallholders, what kinds of supply chains have been created to link them to markets, as well as to suppliers of inputs and services? What have been the drivers of commercialisation of smallholders? How important have public policies been in shaping the processes seen? What have been the outcomes of smallholder commercialisation? How well-distributed have been the processes and their outcomes? Has smallholder commercialisation contributed to broad-based agricultural and rural development? Have any groups suffered losses from commercialisation by others? The paper draws on two exercises. One was an analysis of production data from FAOSTAT to examine the growth of agriculture, including crops, livestock and aquaculture. A particular interest here is comparing growth rates of staple crops – some of which are consumed on the farm – to those of crops grown mainly for sale. The other was a review of recent literature. A search was carried out for publications between 2007 and 2017, looking for articles that contained the term ‘agriculture’, ‘agricultural’, ‘farm’, or farming; and the term ‘cash’, ‘commercial’, ‘commercialization’, or ‘surplus’; and the names of particular countries. The Asian countries covered were Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam; the Latin American countries were Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru. For Latin America, the search was carried out using Spanish and English versions of the terms and countries. The search generated 27 hits that contained relevant insights for Asia, and just 13 for Latin America. A more wide-ranging search, using broader search terms, may have generated more hits, but would have taken a disproportionate amount of time. Given the breadth of the questions asked, and the size of the two regions covered, what follows cannot be comprehensive. Nevertheless, enough evidence has been reviewed to make it likely that significant and widespread processes would have been identified, even if much detail has necessarily not been seen. The rest of this paper is organised by region. For Asia and Latin America, the review begins by considering the prevalence of smallholder farming, the trends seen in growth of production, the forms and processes that smallholder commercialisation has taken, followed by a discussion of the major insights. The final chapter concludes by comparing the two regions.