Agricultural commercialisation: Where it’s hot and where it’s not
This blog by Jim Sumberg from IDS scrutinizes the link between the level of commercialization of a local economy and youth inclusiveness. Greater agricultural commercialization, through engagement with value chains, is seen by many as the only viable way forward for small-scale farmers in Africa. In this view, increased commercialization has the potential to deliver significant income and livelihoods benefits to rural people, including young people. However, how this commercialization is influencing the opportunities of rural young people is hardly investigated. The author therefore looks at agricultural commercialization from a local economy perspective (as opposed, e.g. to an individual, farm, crop or commodity perspective). A local economy perspective starts with economic and employment opportunities associated with the commercialization of agricultural production itself. But it also encompasses the activities that support (e.g. seed and fertilizer sales) and/or add value (e.g. marketing processing and transportation) to this production, and all the other economic activities that are enabled by or linked to agricultural commercialization. Agricultural commercialization as an economic and rural development phenomenon is about much more than producing and selling agricultural products. Through identifying ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ spots for commercialization. In a hotspot more opportunities for youth tend to be available, however, the fact that there are additional economic opportunities for young people in the hotspot does not necessarily mean that the resulting jobs are particularly remunerative, secure or desirable, or that they satisfy the basic criteria for decent work.