"In the 18 months since the Katine project began, a common thread has emerged from those involved in the international aid debate: transformative change is not going to be achieved by the slow underpinning of livelihoods envisaged at the outset of the project.
An economist like Paul Collier is convinced that radical steps have to be taken. "African peasant agriculture has fallen further and further behind the advancing commercial productivity frontier," he wrote at the end of last year in the journal Foreign Affairs. "Based on present trends, the region's food imports are projected to double over the next quarter century." Only large scale farms, he argues, are capable of providing the investment and market access that is essential to produce the surge in food production necessary to keep up with demand.
Rubbish, says development expert Steve Wiggins. "Yes, he is correct to emphasise the need for commercial farming. But no, he is wrong to imagine that this requires doing so on a large scale. His solution is unnecessary, flies in the face of history and carries important dangers."
Anne Perkins on the future of farming in Africa