Defining Smallholders Agriculture in Ghana: Who are smallholders, what do they do and how are they linked with markets?

"Smallholders in Ghana, as elsewhere, are widely considered to be the largest as well as the most vulnerable component of the rural sector. Ghana professes national development objectives of reducing rural poverty through the increased productivity and commercialization of smallholder agriculture. As a starting point for more detailed discussion of smallholder investment options, this paper explores general questions of definition, i.e. who smallholders are, what and how they produce, and the extent to which they are linked with markets. This work uses household survey data, district-level production data and a variety of mapped infrastructural and biophysical data to characterize the production environments and characteristics of smallholder agriculture. This paper explores the relevance of geographically-differentiated characteristics. Several key issues are highlighted: the less prevalent use of inputs, lower commercialization, and lower welfare rates of producers with smaller landholdings. Such relationships change in degree, but not in nature, over geographical space. At the same time, it is difficult to impose a “smallholder” definition on a continuum of characteristics that for the most part do not show clear or consistent threshold effects."