Economy-wide Framework for African Agriculture

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has released a new book, Strategies and Priorities for African Agriculture Economywide Perspectives from Country Studies. It explains the unique ability of agriculture to achieve pro-poor growth in Africa by linking poor individuals to crop and livestock production in order to achieve desired results in poverty reduction and agricultural development. It explores agriculture as a platform for simultaneous growth and poverty reduction, and ends with some key remaining challenges that Africa faces when setting the above premise into practice.

The book is a collection of research results from 20 IFPRI colleagues and contributors. It provides evidence to inform the design of African development strategies and to address the ongoing debate on the role of African agriculture. Analysis is based on ten country case studies which reflect the diversity of agroecological conditions and development challenges facing low-income Africa.

The majority of Africa’s poor population is heavily dependent on farming. Poverty is still concentrated in rural areas, whilst the agricultural sector accounts for a large share of national income and employment. Agricultural development is therefore central in development strategies to reduce poverty and hunger on the continent. From a global perspective, African agriculture has fallen further behind that of other developing regions, despite a rapid growth period beginning in the year 2000, and continued to widen the rural-urban divide in Africa.

The book provides an economy-wide modeling framework that captures the linkages between sectoral and national economic growth on the one hand, and spatial and household level poverty on the other. It uses this framework to identify crops and sectors that have the greatest potential to generate pro-poor growth.

Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia represent the ten case studies. The chosen countries are archetypal examples of the continent because of their respective agricultural production, poverty rates, and other variables that will help to realistically predict the steps forward for Africa.

The case studies were developed using a typology of African countries designed to capture four dimensions of the role of agriculture in development: the first two relate to natural resources and geographical factors, and the second two relate to agriculture’s situation in the broader economy and its relationship to poverty reduction. The ten countries selected cover Africa’s three regions: five in eastern Africa, three in southern Africa, and two from Western Africa. They also account for fifty-seven percent of low-income Africa’s total population in 2005. The book uses these case study countries to reflect general trends in Africa during the 2000s and the diversity of growth and poverty-reduction performances.

Results from the case studies suggest that, in general, agriculture cannot be excluded

from the current development model. The case studies show how even fairly modest improvements in currently low yields can greatly accelerate agricultural growth. As agriculture generates between 20 and 50 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in low-income African countries, faster agricultural growth will foster additional growth at the national level, including in nonagriculture.

Findings also point to export agriculture having high growth potential, which is expected to become a prominent part of agricultural strategies. Broad-based growth will be difficult to achieve without expanding staple food crop production and livestock production, given they have the scale and linkages to poor households needed to reduce national poverty. The case studies also confirm the need for increased investment in African agriculture, however the efficiency of these investment will have to increase if development targets are to remain attainable.

Lead editor, Xinshen Diao, comments:

“This is the first book to put agriculture into an economywide framework and to analyze the potential contributions of different agricultural growth options to broad economic growth and poverty reduction for African countries.”

You can read the book online here.



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