Irrigation Technology and Commercialization of Rice in the Gambia: Effects on Income and Nutrition

With its focus in irrigation technology and commercialization of rice in West Africa, this study addresses the question of how agricultural growth in Sub-Saharan Africa may improve food security. Over the last few decades in Africa, rice has ranked second after maize among cereal that have contributed to the overall growth of cereal output. In West Africa, rice imports have grown rapidly during the last two decades. Future decisions on irrigation investments and technology choices will be critical importance in view of numerous past failures and excessive costs of irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa. This research by Joachim Von Braun, Detlev Puetz, and Patrick Webb is to be seen against the backdrop of policy priorities resulting from the earlier work of IFPRI and its collaborators on accelerating food production in Sub-Saharan Africa. The study resulted highlight the measurable positive effect that incremental income in the hands of the poorest had on nutritional improvement. It is encouraging to learn that yield levels comparable to the highest yields in Asia can be obtained in irrigation schemes in Africa, but the issue of lowering irrigation costs remains a crucial one. In another emphasis of the study is the identification of very high substitution effects between irrigated crops and rainfed crops because of swift labor movements between the crops. The study comprehensively traces the nutritional effects of technological change in the Gambia via production, income, employment, and consumption effects in innovative ways. It stresses the need to consider cause and effect relationships in complex household economic systems. Having a multidisciplinary team of economist, anthropologists, and public health experts work on these issues has proven very useful. A particularly noteworthy aspect of this study is the complex relationship between agricultural productivity and labor utilization. An increase in labor productivity may induce both fundamental changes in the intrahousehold system of division of labor and major shifts of labor between agriculture subsectors. Emphasis is required in program design on breaking the labor bottlenecks in this environment under seasonal stress. Among the important lessons of the study are that technological change is a key to improving food security at the household level in this west African environment, and that irrigated rice with appropriate technological consideration in the riverine areas can make a substantial contribution. To incorporate women farmers into the technologically driven modernization process, women must have access to the means that permit them to use the new technologies- especially access to inputs and credit. Food- security improvements with wear rural health services need to be alleviated jointly to reap maximum benefits from the agricultural commercialization process. The latter point confirms findings of comparable research by IFPRI in Guatemala and Kenya that health and sanitation services in rural health services need to be alleviated jointly to reap maximum sanitations services in rural areas have to move in tandem with the agriculture modernization process in order to reduce the nutrition problem along the hunger problem.

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0-89629-077-8 (Other)
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Research Report

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

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