Smallholder Market Participation: Concepts and Evidence from Eastern and Southern Africa

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Christopher B. Barrett

Type of Document:
Scholarly Article


Food Policy

Date of Publication:

Place of Publication:
Not Available


Abstract: This paper reviews the evidence on smallholder market participation, with a focus on staple foodgrains (i.e., cereals) in eastern and southern Africa, in an effort to help better identify what interventions are most likely to break smallholders out of the semi?subsistence poverty trap that appears to ensnare much of rural Africa. The conceptual and empirical evidence suggests that interventions aimed at facilitating smallholder organization, at reducing the costs of intermarket commerce, and, perhaps especially, at improving poorer households’ access to improved technologies and productive assets are central to stimulating smallholder market participation and escape from semi?subsistence poverty traps. Macroeconomic and trade policy tools appear less useful in inducing market participation by poor smallholders in the region.

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