Ignoring the abnormal drought of the past 3 years, the economic growth performances of most countries in southern Africa have been good-by African standards. However, with the exceptmn of commerc1al farming, agricultural production has stagnated or declined m the indigenous rural sectors where the majority of the populations of southern Afncan countnes continue to live. As in other parts of Africa, food production in particular has not kept pace with growth of rural populations, let alone provided for expanding urban demand. Africa's mability to feed itself amid vast amounts of unused land and record levels of foreign aid 1s, on the surface1 one of the major paradoxes of Third World development. The Repubhc of South Afnca (RSA), on the other hand, largely succeeds in feeding its population while its agricultural exports pay for 22 percent of total imports. Apart from those dramatic economic differences between the RSA and the other southern African states, polttical differences are also highly visible. Whereas the RSA, as the dominant econom1c and regional power in this turbulent subcontinent, ought to play a vital role in development and economic cooperatmn, the potential for conflict and confrontation due to political differences is evident and equally dramatic. In this paper, the performance of agriculture m southern Africa is analyzed to determine whether it can be the basis for meaningful economic cooperation to counter the forces of confrontation.


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