Down to Earth: Agriculture and Poverty Reduction in Africa

Down to Earth: Agriculture and Poverty Reduction in Africa

Down to Earth: Agriculture and Poverty Reduction in Africa

Down to Earth: Agriculture and Poverty Reduction in Africa

Synopsis

This book contributes to the debate about the role of agriculture in poverty reduction by addressing three sets of questions: (1) Does investing in agriculture enhance/harm overall economicgrowth, and if so, under what conditions? (2) Do poor people tend to participate more/less in growth in agriculture than in growth in other sectors, and if so, when? (3) If a focus on agriculturewould tend to yield larger participation by the poor, butslower overall growth, which strategy would tend to have the largest payoff in terms of poverty reduction, andunder which conditions?

Excerpt

This volume revisits the role of agriculture in poverty reduction. Since the 1950s, this role has been the subject of much debate in the development economics literature. Early development theories viewed agriculture as playing a relatively passive role; it was a sector from which resources could be extracted for industrialization. Nonetheless, some observers believed that a resurgent agriculture could play a dynamic role, fostering development in all sectors. Although agriculture was unlikely to deliver more rapid growth than other sectors in the early stages of development, its links with the rest of the economy could more than compensate. the World Bank’s introduction of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers has rekindled this debate about the role of agriculture.

Can agriculture deliver more poverty reduction than other sectors? On the one hand, agriculture is likely to grow more slowly than other sectors, but on the other hand, it provides a livelihood for many poor people in the developing world. This volume’s analysis, which focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa, reveals that agriculture does deliver more poverty reduction than other sectors, especially in the lower-income countries, because it has strong links with other sectors and because poor people participate more in growth from agriculture than in growth from other sectors.

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