Can African smallholders farm themselves out of poverty?

A great deal of research on agriculture in Africa is organised around the premise that intensification can take smallholder farmers out of poverty. The emphasis in programming often focuses on technologies that increase farm productivity and management practices that go along with them.

Yet the returns of such technologies are not often evaluated within a whole-farm context. And – critically – the returns for smallholders with very little available land have not received sufficient attention.

To support smallholders in their efforts to escape poverty by adopting modern crop varieties, inputs and management practices, it’s necessary to know if their current resources – particularly their farms – are large enough to generate the requisite value.