African Agricultural Value Chains: A Brief Historical Overview

Alan de Brauw*, Erwin Bulte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


African agricultural value chains have gradually evolved from informal exchange to more formalization in general, yet this process has not been linear in time. Policy changes between colonial and post-colonial regimes first shifted at least some smallholders into more formalized markets, and then back to selling surplus on spot markets. The colonial era can be characterized as extractive; institutions were developed to extract value from Africa and provide cheap food to Europe, particularly tropical commodities. Many post-colonial governments continued to implicitly tax agriculture through urban bias and pricing, tariff, or exchange rate policies until structural adjustment occurred in the 1990s. Since then, several factors have improved African agricultural performance, including an infusion of FDI and private sector investments and changes in agricultural policy in Europe improving African terms of trade.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAfrican Farmers, Value Chains and Agricultural Development
Subtitle of host publicationAn Economic and Institutional Perspective
EditorsA. de Brauw, E. Bulte
ISBN (Electronic)9783030886936
ISBN (Print)9783030886929
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2021

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Agricultural Economics and Food Policy book series (AEFP)
ISSN (Print)2662-3889
ISSN (Electronic)2662-3897


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