The central role of non-farm activities in the food surplus areas of the Nigerian savanna challenges the conventional wisdom regarding the non-farm sector in Africa. Non-farm income shares in the village were found to average 60% in 1996/1997. But evidence of declining access to agricultural inputs and declining welfare indicators among the bulk of the population tell a different story. While non-farm incomes have been economically important in rural Africa for centuries, two developments have triggered a dramatic upsurge in policy interest in the non-farm sector. The first is the impact on rural economies of economic restructuring, embodied in structural adjustment programmes and the economic pressures of globalization. A second development which has further intrigued the policy orthodoxy is that the evidence of non-farm sector growth coincides with the emergence of a serious gap in rural development policy. Structural adjustment has severely curtailed public sector agricultural support programmes.