13. The intention with this framework is to provide an evidence-backed description of a set of laws, regulations, policies and practices that will promote and enable investment from smallholder farmers and others along the agricultural value chain; and to help scale up their participation in markets.
14. Case studies confirm that once obstacles are removed, farmers will self-mobilise to increase their productivity and participate more actively in available markets. Government’s role should ideally be restricted to removing obstacles, promoting and enabling investment and protecting farmers’ interests. For example, the Future Agricultures Consortium’s recently-completed case studies in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania on successful commercialisation by smallholder farmers found little evidence of outside intervention or stimulus: given supportive circumstances (in this case, government-provided irrigation infrastructure was a particularly significant factor), farmers took the initiative and created their own opportunities to commercialise.
15. A number of general principles are worth bearing in mind in using this framework:
16. There is, of course, no single set of policies that will improve smallholder farmers’ prospects in every African country and under all circumstances. However, a number of conditions repeatedly show up in the literature as being material in the majority of cases where smallholder farmers have raised their output and incomes and participated in agricultural growth (Wiggins 2011). For purposes of this framework these have been arranged into