The African green revolution as a pro-poor policy instrument
AbstractIn opposition to a number of the presentations at the Conference, we argue that the development of foodcrop agriculture needs to be considered as a pivotal poverty reduction strategy in Africa-in spite of the sector's erratic performance which has seen a number of 'mini-green revolutions' take off, falter and crash back to earth. We insist that for at least five reasons-the scale-neutrality of hybrid seed technology, its labour-intensity, its tendency to reduce risks, its ability to reduce the prices of poor people's basic foods and its ability to stimulate off-farm linkages-the hybrid seed revolution, partial though it has been, needs to be supported and sustained, and not dismissed as fated to fail in African conditions. We support this conclusion by two estimates of poverty impact of these 'new' technologies-a quick and dirty estimate based on four channels of impact only (income of adopter households, labour market, consumer prices and off-farm linkages) and an estimate derived from a multi-market model of Uganda, in which about one-tenth of the poverty reduction achieved in Uganda since 1992 is ascribed to productivity change in maize and cassava. We note that a number of domestic and aid policy factors-from weak rural infrastructure and financial systems to food aid-have tended to reduce either the incentive to introduce new technologies, and|or the poverty-elasticity of their introduction. To reduce many of the different poverties from which Africa suffers, we argue, the policies responsible for the underdevelopment of its cereal crops need coordinated reform across many countries; in preparing such reform, inspiration can be taken from the policies which preceded the surge in agricultural productivity in India, Indonesia and China 30 years ago. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Volume (Year): 14 (2002)
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