Strategies and Priorities for African Agriculture: Economywide perspectives from country studies

Diao, Xinshen (ed.)
Thurlow, James (ed.)
Benin, Samuel (ed.)
Fan, Shenggen (ed.)
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

For the first time in many years, Africa has enjoyed a period of strong and sustained economic growth. The agricultural sector has also grown at a moderate rate, and this growth has contributed to significant reductions in poverty in many African countries. This improved agricultural performance is consistent with continentwide initiatives—one of the most important being the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme—which aim to raise rural incomes, reduce poverty, and increase food and nutrition security through agricultural investment and growth.

This book examines the potential of agriculture to contribute to national growth and poverty reduction. It also evaluates the financial costs of accelerating agricultural growth. The analysis is based on ten country case studies that apply similar economywide approaches to linking growth, poverty, and investment. The findings indicate that, in most African countries, improving agriculture’s performance is essential to achieving pro-poor growth. They also point to export agriculture having high growth potential and becoming a prominent part of agricultural strategies. The research shows that broad-based growth will be difficult to achieve without expanding staple-foodcrop production and livestock production, since only they have the scale and linkages to poor households needed to reduce national poverty within a reasonable period of time. Finally, the case studies confi rm the need for greater investment in agriculture. However, the efficiency of agricultural investments will have to improve if development targets are to remain attainable.

This book provides a structured approach to evaluating agricultural development strategies at the country level. The case studies demonstrate the application of important analytical methods that can be adopted by governments and researchers in developing countries. Of course, not all challenges facing agricultural development can be addressed by the methods presented in this volume. For example, analysis of the political economy of investment decisionmaking is also important to promoting agricultural growth. Nevertheless, this book provides valuable practical insights and guidance and will contribute to strategic thinking and investment planning and implementation in many African countries.

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