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Understanding the Persistent Low Performance of African Agriculture

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  • Sylvain Dessy
  • Jacques Ewoudou
  • Isabelle Ouellet

Abstract

We explain the persistence of low performances in African agriculture by analyzing the determinants of farmers' decisions to modernize their farming practices. Owing to sociocultural factors specific to Sub-Saharan Africa, farmers' decisions on farming practices are strategic complements. We demonstrate that the modernization game these farmers play admits two pure-strategy, Pareto-ranked, symmetric Nash-equilibria. The equilibrium where all farmers choose to modernize their farming methods is preferred to the one where all of them choose to stick to a traditional method. We argue that scarcity and economic opportunities put forward by neo-Boserupian theories of induced-innovation as determinants of the onset agricultural innovations are, in the context of African countries, only necessary, but not sufficient to generate modernization of farming methods. Deliberate action to enhance aadoption of agricultural innovations must therefore take the African's sociocultural context into consideration, or risk failure.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CIRPEE in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 0622.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0622

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Related research

Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa; Agricultural modernization; Fertilizer adoption; Supermodular games;

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  1. Conning, Jonathan & Udry, Christopher, 2007. "Rural Financial Markets in Developing Countries," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, Elsevier.
  2. Mark Rosenzweig & Andrew D. Foster, . "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Home Pages _068, University of Pennsylvania.
  3. Federico Echenique, 2002. "Comparative Statics by Adaptive Dynamics and the Correspondence Principle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 833-844, March.
  4. Diamond, Peter A, 1982. "Aggregate Demand Management in Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 881-94, October.
  5. Stefan Ambec & Nicolas Treich, 2003. "Roscas as Financial Agreements to Cope with Social Pressure," CSEF Working Papers 103, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  6. Feder, Gershon & Just, Richard E & Zilberman, David, 1985. "Adoption of Agricultural Innovations in Developing Countries: A Survey," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 255-98, January.
  7. Echenique, Federico & Edlin, Aaron, 2004. "Mixed equilibria are unstable in games of strategic complements," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 61-79, September.
  8. Conley, T.G. & Udry, C.R., 2000. "Learning about a New Technology: Pineapple in Ghana," Papers 817, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  9. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1994. "Diffusion as a Learning Process: Evidence from HYV Cotton," Working Papers 228, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  10. Cleaver, K., 1993. "A Strategy to Develop Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa and a Focus for the World Bank," Papers 203, World Bank - Technical Papers.
  11. Sunding, David & Zilberman, David, 2001. "The agricultural innovation process: Research and technology adoption in a changing agricultural sector," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, in: B. L. Gardner & G. C. Rausser (ed.), Handbook of Agricultural Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 207-261 Elsevier.
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