A comparison of farm typology approaches in northern Ghana

K. Kuivanen, M. Michalscheck, S. Alvarez, J.C.J. Groot, K.K.E. Descheemaeker, S. Adjei-Nsi, S.M. Bedi

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


Acknowledging the complex, multi-facetted nature of smallholder farming systems is a pre-requisite
to successfully promoting activities leading towards sustainable intensification. Typologies are used
as tools for navigating and making sense of farming system diversity by the Africa RISING project
(Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation). This is achieved by classifying
farms into groups according to their structural and functional features. The resulting ‘farm types’
may then be considered to constitute ‘recommendation domains’, to which project support may be
targeted, thus maximizing the efficiency and scalability of interventions. Such a grouping exercise
may be performed using various methods, depending on the purpose of the research and the
underlying theoretical approach. Where quantitative techniques can provide reproducible and
generalizable results, qualitative methods provide greater depth of understanding and are useful for
contextualizing heterogeneity within the rural landscape. Because it is important that typologies
meet the standards of science in which accuracy and objectivity are central, as well as the
standards of project outcomes, which are dependent on the different needs and perceptions of
stakeholders, assessing the value and (non-) complementarity of typology approaches is a vital step
in ensuring that future work in the field remains both reliable and relevant. Therefore, this study
aims to compare approaches to typifying the diversity of smallholder farming systems in northern
Ghana, drawing on the results of an etic, researcher-defined classification and an emic, farmerdefined
classification. The former was developed for Africa RISING ‘intervention communities’ in
Ghana’s Northern Region. The types were statistically generated using multivariate analysis, based
on selected variables extracted from recent (2013) survey data. Results suggest six clusters, with
farmers categorized on the basis of resource endowment and production strategies among other
factors. The resulting farm types were validated in the field and compared to a second typology
developed through joint analysis with local farmers. Participatory methods were used to ensure that
the sense-making process was grounded in the perceptions and interests of the farmers and the
resulting categories of farmers a recognizable reflection of local reality.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventInternational Conference on Integrated Systems Research - IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria
Duration: 3 Mar 20156 Mar 2015


ConferenceInternational Conference on Integrated Systems Research

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A comparison of farm typology approaches in northern Ghana'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Kuivanen, K., Michalscheck, M., Alvarez, S., Groot, J. C. J., Descheemaeker, K. K. E., Adjei-Nsi, S., & Bedi, S. M. (2015). A comparison of farm typology approaches in northern Ghana. 32. Abstract from International Conference on Integrated Systems Research, Ibadan, Nigeria. http://humidtropics.cgiar.org/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2015/02/Conference-Book-of-Abstracts-Small.pdf#page=32