Commodities – agricultural produce, oil and gas, and minerals – are central to many developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
They are a major source of foreign exchange earnings, and in the case of agricultural commodities, they provide important avenues for income generation and employment.
However commodity prices are volatile and historically most countries’ development strategy has been oriented towards industry rather than commodities. But since the late 1990s rising demand in China and India has caused many developing economies to reappraise their neglect of the commodities sector.
Commodities still pose many challenges for governments and civil societies. They are seen more as a "resource curse" than a "resource gift".
Working with African colleagues, the Commodities Programme seeks to identify a policy path to the exploitation of the commodities sector which will promote development and the equitable distribution of the returns from commodities.
The Commodities Group is part of Development Policy and Practice in The Open University, and the Policy Research in International Services (PRISM) unit in the School of Economics and Centre for Social Science Research, University of Cape Town.