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Transition of small farms in Ghana: perspectives of farm heritage, employment and networks

Lu, Wencong, Horlu, Godwin Seyram Agbemavor Kwasi
Land use policy 2019 v.81 pp. 434-452
employment, farmers, females, issues and policy, land tenure, males, small farms, surveys, Ghana
This paper uses a survey data on Ghana and survival analyses to examine whether or not farm heritage, employment history and networks contribute to the transition of small farms into medium and large-scale production units. Specifically, we have investigated how these factors influence the survival of small farms and their effects on the time rate of occurrence of medium and large-scale farm holdings in Ghana. The results show that farm expansion beyond the scope of small farms has been slow, especially when the farms are inherited. Farmers without formal employment or personal informal business alongside farming transit more slowly while those who have such additional employment expand their farms faster. Also, farmer motivations for going into farming are mainly centred on feeding their families and this supports our finding that farm heritage leads to lower rates of transition of small farms into medium and large-scale status. Besides, as supports from non-governmental agencies encourage occurrence of medium and large-scale farming, governmental assistance gives grounds to survival of small farms. As well, perceived changes in land tenure systems facilitate persistence of small farms and increase the time that a farmer may take to attain a level of medium or large-scale farming status. Additionally, our analyses show that male farmers have higher tendency and potential of becoming medium and large-scale farmers than their female counterparts. Besides considering the motives of the farmers and ensuring stable land tenure arrangements, we recommend that policies targets to transform the farm sector from small farms into medium and large-scale farm holdings should consider dynamisms in the employment history of the farmers, farm-related heritage, the gender of the farmers and the operational networks at the farmers’ disposal.