Despite an element of pessimism that often surrounds dialogues about African agriculture, there are numerous examples of localised successes. Following an extensive survey of over 100 experts in African agriculture, the authors of this discussion paper identify common factors linked to such success and suggest how these might underpin broad-based agricultural growth in Africa.

Numerous "success stories" are cited, and include commodity driven (such as improved crop varieties), activity-led (including policy reforms), institutional successes (including market organisations) and country-level successes (such as the agriculturally-powered post-independence period in the Ivory Coast).

Analysis of each of these cases reveals that the actions and attitudes of individual farmers and trading firms are central to success. The public sector also has a key role to play in helping influence change for individuals as well as the external environment. In addition, science-based technology emerges as a strong driver of agricultural growth in Africa.

The paper's authors conclude that better incentives for change must be provided, as well as means to respond to these incentives. Success is also likely to follow where new technology is being adopted.