Agricultural Growth, Poverty Reduction and Millennium Development Goals in Africa: Outcomes of AAAE Conference

This booklet covers the outcomes of the AAAE conference, held on 18-22 August, 2007 at La Palm Beach Hotel, Accra, Ghana. The main theme of the conference was Agricultural growth, poverty reduction and millennium development goals in Africa. The conference presentations were based on six sub themes mainly: (1) Improved Markets for African Farmers for Poverty Reduction (2) Advancing Technical change in Africa Agriculture (3) The role of Agriculture in Poverty Reduction: Recent experiences from Africa (4) Expanding the Frontiers of Agricultural Economics to Meet the challenges of Agricultural Development in Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (5) Meeting Africa’s Food and Nutrition Challenges (6) Agriculture, Environment and sustainable Development Some of the emerging issues affecting agriculture in Africa include: lack of markets, globalization and market liberalization, biotechnology as a technical option to improve yields, poor infrastructure, lack of information, and new institutional economics (NIE) as a tool to solve development problems, HIV/AIDS prevalence and sustainable agriculture. African countries are challenged by the emergence of globalization. African economies need to change their agricultural and industrial exports from primary products to manufactured goods. Such value addition will improve their participation in international trade, and enhance reduction of poverty. Africa needs to resolve challenges related to food and nutrition that affect many rural smallholder farmers who are poor. Various initiatives have been established to solve some of the challenges facing Africa. Recent improvements in agricultural productivity occurred due to a paradigm shift in development schools of thought from agriculture as a passive contributor to economic growth to agriculture as a possible engine of growth. This was enhanced by recent reforms to remove urban bias stemming from macroeconomic and tax policies. Emergences of new institutional arrangement have enabled the smallholders to maintain their participation in high value European markets. Public-private partnerships have played a key role in helping smallholder farmers acquire training on certification against European food safety standards, while collective action and marketing has led to higher incomes among the small holder farmers. The introduction of NERICA rice variety has shown a huge potential in improved yields and production of rice in Africa. New Institutional Economics (NIE) could provide theoretical framework to understand markets, system and also answer the ‘how’ question of agricultural policy. As the need for the NIE becomes clearer, it emerged that agricultural economists across the continent are still being trained in the standard neo-classical economic framework and liberal market ideology. It was recommended that in order to realize a Green Revolution, Africa need to invest more in research and development of drought-tolerant yield-enhancing technologies. Effective soil management practices based on crop-livestock-feed-agro-forestry interactions or the use of chemical fertilizers are needed. Yields could be increased by application of more inputs per ha with specific focus on fertilizer, and also develop fertilizer-responsive varieties, that are able to convert nutrients to grains or fruits efficiently especially in areas where rainfall is low and unpredictable. Policy agenda in Africa should bring hunger to the forefront of poverty reduction in the context of long-term food security and development. This could be enhanced by developing flexible support for the resilience of food and agricultural systems in crisis situations while enacting anti-hunger policy in the context of the macro-economic environment. Governments should protect vulnerable citizens from hunger by developing social protection strategies, improved diet quality, control of chronic diseases and better crises prevention and management.

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Q010; Q130; Q170; Q180; Q560
This report is a summary of emerging issues affecting African agriculture, recent experiences and policy proposals that can guide interventions in improving the sector’s productivity. Agriculture is at the centre of rural poverty reduction in Africa and urgent measures are needed to increase farm yields and incomes in order to stem collapse of economies and societies.
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Conference reports

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

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