An understanding of the future of smallholder agriculture is critical to the design of development policies. One of the major questions regarding smallholders is the potential impact of globalisation. Addressing this question requires an analysis of past agricultural development, such as the Green Revolutions in Asia; a recognition that the developing world is globalising at an uneven pace – on some measures perhaps countries containing at least 2 billion people are not globalising at all; and a clear understanding of the technological and institutional prerequisites for participation in a globalised economy. Much current policy advice focuses on the effects of policy distortions, but inadequate attention is given to the serious, embedded, institutional deficiencies that limit many smallholder areas from taking advantage of market opportunities. These institutional deficiencies require intensive, and long-term, attention if globalisation is to offer opportunities for smallholder development.