Changing Farm Size Distributions and Agricultural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa
March 17, 2022 - Author: T.S. Jayne, Ayala Wineman, Jordan Chamberlin, Milu Muyanga, and Felix Kwame Yeboah
Jayne, T. S., Wineman, A., Chamberlin, J., Muyanga, M., & Yeboah, F. K. (2022). Changing Farm Size Distributions and Agricultural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa. Annual Review of Resource Economics, 14(1).
We review the literature on the distribution of farm sizes in sub-Saharan Africa, trends over time, drivers of change in farm structure, and effects on agricultural transformation and present new evidence for seven countries. While it is widely viewed that African agriculture is dominated by small-scale farms, we show that medium-scale farms of 5 to 100 hectares are a nontrivial—and rapidly expanding—force that is influencing the nature and pace of food systems transformation in Africa. The increased prevalence of medium-scale holdings is associated with farm labor productivity growth and underappreciated benefits to smallholder farmers. However, the rise of African investor farmers is also contributing to the commodification of land, escalating land prices, and restricted land access for most local people. A better understanding of these trends and linkages, which requires new data collection activities, could help resolve long-standing policy debates and support strategies that accelerate agricultural transformation.