Plantations, Contract Farming and Commercial Farming Areas in Africa: A Comparative Review

April 2013
Rebecca Smalley (FAC Working Paper 055)

There is uncertainty and controversy surrounding the potential impacts of commercial agricultural developments being proposed for sub-Saharan Africa by domestic governments and foreign investors. Much of the debate concerns how Africa’s rural poor could be affected. The paper assesses the historical experience of three farming models that have figured in recent investments in sub-Saharan Africa: plantations, contract farming and commercial farming areas. Based on a literature review, the paper concentrates on the involvement of, and effects on, rural societies in and around the area where the schemes were located. Looks mainly at sub-Saharan Africa but also considers case studies from Latin America and Asia.