The global demand for food is set to increase significantly.  With smallholder farms in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) representing 80 per cent of all farms in the region, and contributing up to 90 per cent of food production in some countries, smallholder agriculture is seen as an effective means of reducing poverty and hunger in low-income countries - but only through sustainable access to markets. 

This new Working Paper from SAIRLA introduces the different perspectives on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification (SAI), the possible pathways leading towards increases in agricultural productivity as well as the trade-offs that exist between the overall approaches and between elements of them. The paper aims to inform SSA stakeholders as they contextualise SAI in diverse national and local contexts and in the wider global context. In turn, SSA stakeholders will seek to inform and engage decision-makers to as to what constitutes an effective enabling environment that will enable poor African smallholder farmers, especially women and youth, to benefit from SAI and agricultural development in SSA.    

Download Understanding different perspectives on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and how it can be achieved, SAIRLA Working Paper 1.


Authors: Jeremy Haggar, SAIRLA Research Lead and Duncan Sones, CABI-GALA project

My visit to the Gender and Legume Alliance project in Northern Ghana started with a film-screening. Sitting around a village square, half an hour outside Tamale, in the dark, with children cross-legged on the ground in front and adult sitting or standing around behind me women on my left, men on the right; all waiting expectantly. Then the generator started, and the show began, with music videos and slap-stick comedy from local entertainment stars – I couldn’t understand a word as it was all in the local language but the images and rhythm of the music, as well as the laughter from the crowd, was all that was necessary to appreciate the scene.

The National Learning Alliance on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification in Ghana was recently launched in Accra on 23rd February 2017. The project aims to provide evidence on policies and investments in sustainable agricultural intensification that strengthens the capacity of poorer farmers especially women and youth, to access and benefit from agricultural development programmes in Ghana.

Please see the news article below for more information from the event:

Smallholder farming families in Central Malawi subsist on between 1 to 20 acres of land, depending on just 3 to 4 months’ rainfall to produce enough maize to feed themselves, and may be some ground nuts to sell. They are challenged by lack of markets for traditional cash crops such as tobacco, uncertain rains for the maize to give them food security, and land slowly becoming degraded through constant cultivation. On top of this it is the men who control the land and the crops, though women do much of the labour. Whether land is handed down through matrilineal or patrilineal lines the result is the same; either the husband or the brother controls the land.

Funded by:
Managed by: