The Role of Agriculture in Development: Implications for Sub-Saharan Africa

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Intl Food Policy Res Inst, 2007 - 66 pages
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This report provides a nuanced perspective on debates about the potential for Africa s smallholder agriculture to stimulate growth and alleviate poverty in an increasingly integrated world. In particular, the paper synthesizes both the traditional theoretical literature on agriculture s role in the development process and discusses more recent literature that remains skeptical about agriculture s development potential for Africa. In order to examine in greater detail the relevance for Africa of both the old and new literatures on agriculture, the paper provides a typology of African countries based on their stage of development, agricultural conditions, natural resources, and geographic location. More broadly, the paper demonstrates that conventional theory on the role of agriculture in the early stage of development remains relevant to Africa. While the continent does face new and different challenges than those encountered by Asian and Latin American countries during their successful transformations, most African countries cannot significantly reduce poverty, increase per capita incomes, and transform into modern economies without focusing on agricultural development.

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Page 4 - This is one of the senses in which industrialization is -dependent upon agricultural improvement ; it is not profitable to produce a growing volume of manufactures unless agricultural production is growing simultaneously. This is also why industrial and agrarian revolutions always go together, and why economies in which agriculture is stagnant do not show industrial development.
Page 9 - Thus, in combination, bringing the ultrapoor into the labor force and raising the energy available for work by those in the labor force explains about 30% of the British growth in per capita incomes over the past two centuries (Fogel, 1991, p.
Page 16 - The small farmer is increasingly being asked to compete in markets that are much more demanding in terms of quality and food safety, more concentrated and integrated, and much more open to international competition.
Page 8 - After the very initial stages of industrial development, the emphasis in policy toward agriculture should shift from surplus extraction to surplus creation and to the generation of demand linkages with the rest of the economy.
Page 37 - Indeed, investments in feeder roads reduced the number of poor Ugandans by more than three times as much as investments in more costly murram or tarmac roads. Public investment in rural infrastructure also demonstrates a "crowding-in" effect on private investment, which, in the absence of rural infrastructure, is much less profitable (Timmer 2002).
Page 17 - Many small farms could significantly increase their incomes if they could capture a large share of this market growth.
Page 15 - In fact, the first large-scale rural household survey in Africa conducted in 1974-75 in Kenya found that smallholders derived...
Page 11 - Typically high growth rates are achieved when agriculture grows rapidly. That is because the resources used for agricultural growth are only marginally competitive with other sectors and so fast agricultural growth tends to be additive to growth in other sectors, as well as being a stimulant of growth in the labor surplus nontradable sector. . . . Block and Timmer's model of the Kenyan economy" shows the multipliers from agricultural growth to be three times as large as those for non-agricultural...
Page 36 - In addition to financial resources, agricultural innovation requires human capital, and therefore sustaining and improving on advances in agricultural research requires concurrent investments in general education (Hayami and Ruttan 1985). Public investment in rural infrastructure is also necessary to increase consumer demand and farmers...
Page 19 - Agriculture is less important in middleincome countries and on average generates less than 10 percent of GDP. Higher average per capita incomes typically correspond to lower poverty rates, with middle-income countries in total containing less than 1 percent of Africa's poor population.

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