When agricultural commercialization fails: ‘Re-visiting’ value-chain agriculture and its ruins in northern Ghana

OUMA Stefan, 2022

Name of publisher/editor

Taylor & Francis


Azindow Yakubu Iddrisu , Stefan Ouma , Joseph Awetori Yaro ,

Geographic area


Summary & key words

Commercialization via value-chain agriculture, under which small farmers often collaborate with big companies, has become a prominent development strategy across Africa. Often framed in win-win terms, the dark sides of such projects (e.g. project failure, related losses) are often sidelined in both academic and practitioner discourses on agricultural commercialization. Informed by a collaborative ethnography of a failed value-chain agriculture project in Ghana, this paper seeks to contribute to a better understanding of how farmers, agribusiness companies, and development organizations engage with and shape commercialization processes, and how those most affected – farmers and their communities – experience often risky and conflict-prone ventures. In contrast to the win-win-rhetoric adopted by funders and corporate partners in such projects, we foreground the uneven distribution of risk and sacrifice/losses between farmers, communities, and corporate partners; the socially and materially disruptive nature of commercialization projects for host communities; and the clashes between a planner’s view of the world and the environmental realities of commercialization.