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Agricultural intensification is widely seen as a condition sine-qua-non for overall economic growth and food security in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Though attention is shifting from technology development to more market-oriented approaches, the best examples of agricultural intensification seem to happen relatively independent of interventions from the development circuit. This paper argues that agricultural intensification and market development may be stimulated through grassroots and regional-level efforts when care is taken not to substitute for responsibilities that belong to farmers, traders, and other stakeholders themselves. An approach is required that carefully addresses the factors influencing the competitiveness of agricultural enterprises. A major role of facilitating institutions may be to develop efficient relationships between farmers - and their complex multi-purpose farming systems and traders and processors - engaged in commodity specific trade and processing market segments. Finally, competitiveness is not something to win for today it crucially depends on innovation and continuous learning. The paper present cases from Northern Togo, where effective linkages have been established between farmers, traders, processors and rural bankers and NGOs. The paper concentrate on three cases: tomato production and marketing, soy bean processing, and the development of credit structures and interlocked contracts for input provisioning. The article is based on qualitative data interviews with the major stakeholders, and accounts in progress reports from the NGOs and farmer organizations. In conclusion, it gives some observations on the major lessons learnt, and the contribution that social scientists can make to strengthen dialogue between theory and practice.


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