Are Medium-Scale Farms Driving Agricultural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa?

November 21, 2019 - <>, <>, Ayala Wineman, Hosaena Ghebru, Caleb Stevens

Jayne TS, Muyanga M, Wineman A, et al. Are medium-scale farms driving agricultural transformation in sub-Saharan Africa?. Agricultural Economics. 2019;1–21.


This study presents evidence of profound farm-level transformation in parts of sub-
Saharan Africa, identifies major sources of dynamism in the sector, and proposes an
updated typology of farms that reflects the evolving nature of African agriculture.
Repeat waves of national survey data are used to examine changes in crop production
and marketed output by farmsize. Between the first and most recent surveys (generally
covering 6 to 10 years), the share of national marketed crop output value accounted
for by medium-scale farms rose in Zambia from 23% to 42%, in Tanzania from 17% to
36%, and in Nigeria from 7% to 18%. The share of land under medium-scale farms is
not rising in densely populated countries such as Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, where
land scarcity is impeding the pace of medium-scale farm acquisitions. Medium-scale
farmers are a diverse group, reflecting distinct entry pathways into agriculture, encouraged
by the rapid development of land rental, purchase, and long-term lease markets.
The rise of medium-scale farms is affecting the region in diverse ways that are difficult
to generalize. Findings indicate that these farms can be a dynamic driver of
agricultural transformation but this does not reduce the importance of maintaining a
clear commitment to supporting smallholder farms. Strengthening land tenure security
of local rural people to maintain land rights


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