Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Webinar: The rise of medium-scale farms in Africa

23 May 2017. This webinar by Prof. Thomas Jayne (MSU) highlighted the causes and consequences of changing farm size distributions in sub-Saharan Africa.

Watch the webinar recording and join the conversation in the comments section below.




This presentation highlights the causes and consequences of changing farm size distributions in sub-Saharan Africa. Medium- and large-scale farms account for a rising share of total farmland, especially in the 5 to 100 hectare range where the number of these farms is growing especially rapidly. 
Thomas Jayne
  • Medium-scale farms control roughly 20% of total farmland in Kenya, 32% in Ghana, 39% in Tanzania, and over 50% in Zambia. The rapid rise of medium-scale holdings in most cases reflects increased interest in land by urban-based professionals or influential rural people. 
  • The rise of medium-scale farms is affecting the region in diverse ways that are difficult to generalize. Many such farms are a source of dynamism, technical change and commercialization of African agriculture. Evidence shows that the rise of bigger farms is encouraging new entry and investment by large-scale traders and more concentrated marketing channels as well as greater use of mechanization even by small-scale farmers. 
  • However, medium-scale land acquisitions may exacerbate land scarcity in rural areas, bid up land prices and encourage out-migration of rural youth. 
  • Medium-scale farmers tend to dominate farm lobby groups and influence agricultural policies and public expenditures to agriculture in their favor. 
  • Nationally representative Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from six countries (Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia) show that urban households own 5% to 35% of total agricultural land and that this share is rising in all countries where two or more DHS surveys warrant comparisons over time. This suggests a new and hitherto unrecognized channel by which medium-scale farmers may be altering the strength and location of agricultural growth and employment multipliers between rural and urban areas. 
  • Given current trends, medium-scale farms will soon become the dominant scale of farming in many African countries.
About PIM webinars
The PIM webinars aim to share findings of PIM’s research, discuss their application, and get feedback and suggestions from participants. Webinars are conducted by PIM researchers in the form of research seminars. Each webinar is a live event consisting of a presentation (30 min) and a facilitated Q&A session (30 min).

See the full schedule of PIM webinars for May-October 2017 here.

  • August 29, 2017, Women's empowerment in agriculture - what have we learned? (presented by Hazel Malapit, Research Coordinator, Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division, IFPRI, and Cheryl Doss, Senior Departmental Lecturer in Development Economics Department of International Development, Oxford University)
  • September 26, 2017, What determines public budgets for agricultural growth in the developing world? (presented by Tewodaj Mogues, Senior Research Fellow, Development Strategy and Governance Division, IFPRI)
  • October 25, 2017, Strengthening seed systems and markets (presented by David Spielman, Senior Research Fellow, Environment and Production Technology Division, IFPRI)

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