The role of agriculture in development : implications for Sub-Saharan Africa

Thinking on development has long held that agricultural growth is an important step toward economic development and transformation. However, the new challenges facing African agriculture in today’s more globalized environment have led some to question whether conventional wisdom about the role of agriculture in development is still applicable to Africa. There is a shift in emphasis toward nonagricultural growth opportunities, which has the potential to reshape the development strategies of many African countries over the coming decades. This research report critically examines conventional wisdom and contemporary skepticism. It also develops a country typology reflecting the diversity of conditions across the subcontinent and then examines the role of agriculture in five African countries. The findings indicate that, in many African countries, only agriculture has sufficient scale to increase economic growth significantly over the foreseeable future. Agricultural growth is also more effective at reducing poverty, even in countries that may have the potential for industrial growth driven by rich natural resources. Within the agricultural sector, there are few countries that can generate broad-based growth without expanding the food-staple and livestock subsectors. Based on these findings, the report concludes that although African agriculture faces many new challenges, agriculture and its food subsector cannot be bypassed if Africa is to experience broad-based economic growth and poverty reduction. Agricultural growth in Africa needs significant increases in public and private investments, and the costs of generating growth can differ significantly across agriculture’s subsectors. The report is silent about such costs, which inevitably play an important role in informing development strategies. Nevertheless, the findings of this report will contribute to strategic thinking in many African countries.

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978-0-89629-161-4 (Other)
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Research Report

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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