In this paper, the example of cocoa production in Ghana is used to explore how the narratives portraying African farmers have changed over the last 70 years. These evolving narratives are explored through the notion of a ‘good farmer’.
The argument is that, as the image of African farmers has been progressively rehabilitated (from ignorant and tradition-bound to skilled and research-minded), the image of formal research and extension has suffered. This reversal was associated with the progressive disempowering of formal agricultural research. With the recent renewed interest in agricultural development, narratives about African farmers are again evolving: ‘good farmers’ are now increasingly being defined as those who approach their farming as a proper business.