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What Future for West Africa's Family Farms in a World Market Economy?

Agriculture in West Africa faces a double challenge. It needs to be more productive to meet the growing need for food in urban areas in particular, and it needs to provide income and employment for the rural population to reduce migration and combat the inequalities and poverty affecting the rural areas. With the exception of agro-industrial firms, West Africa’s farms are primarily family run. Policy debate shows a tendency to contrast commercially orientated forms of agriculture with family-based farms. This paper looks at different case studies which show the competitive advantages of family farming systems in responding to the market and adapting to economic and institutional change.

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