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The economics of agriculture in Africa: Notes toward a research program


  • Udry, Christopher


Why are agricultural yields so low and growing so slowly in Africa? Using simple models, this paper proposes a research program to uncover the reasons for the low levels of input intensity and slow pace of technological innovation in African agriculture. Attention is focused on the relative prices of output and factors of production, credit constraints, imperfect insurance, learning externalities and insecure property rights. A set of research projects is proposed to examine these hypothesized sources of low and slow growing productivity.

Suggested Citation

  • Udry, Christopher, 2010. "The economics of agriculture in Africa: Notes toward a research program," African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, African Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 5(1), September.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:afjare:156665

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. De Weerdt, Joachim & Dercon, Stefan, 2006. "Risk-sharing networks and insurance against illness," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 337-356, December.
    2. Brasselle, Anne-Sophie & Gaspart, Frederic & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2002. "Land tenure security and investment incentives: puzzling evidence from Burkina Faso," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 373-418, April.
    3. Pascaline Dupas & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 163-192, January.
    4. Kazianga, Harounan & Udry, Christopher, 2006. "Consumption smoothing? Livestock, insurance and drought in rural Burkina Faso," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 413-446, April.
    5. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1176-1209, December.
    6. Timothy G. Conley & Christopher R. Udry, 2010. "Learning about a New Technology: Pineapple in Ghana," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 35-69, March.
    7. Klaus Deininger & Daniel Ayalew Ali, 2008. "Do Overlapping Land Rights Reduce Agricultural Investment? Evidence from Uganda," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(4), pages 869-882.
    8. Markus Goldstein & Christopher Udry, 2008. "The Profits of Power: Land Rights and Agricultural Investment in Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 981-1022, December.
    9. Christopher Udry, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in a Rural Credit Market: An Empirical Investigation in Northern Nigeria," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(3), pages 495-526.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pan, Yao & Smith, Stephen C. & Sulaiman, Munshi, 2015. "Agricultural Extension and Technology Adoption for Food Security: Evidence from Uganda," IZA Discussion Papers 9206, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Aravind Moorthy & Thomas Coen & Katie Naeve & Jeremy Brecher-Haimson & Sarah Hughes, "undated". "Evaluation of the Irrigation and Water Resource Management Project in Senegal: Design Report," Mathematica Policy Research Reports c9f29d5746b14250b145a2030, Mathematica Policy Research.
    3. repec:gwi:wpaper:2015-11 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Benfica, Rui M.S. & Boughton, Duncan & Mouzinho, Bordalo & Uaiene, Rafael, 2014. "Food Crop Marketing and Agricultural Productivity in a High Price Environment: Evidence and Implications for Mozambique," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 176722, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    5. Christopher Blattman & Eric P. Green & Julian Jamison & M. Christian Lehmann & Jeannie Annan, 2016. "The Returns to Microenterprise Support among the Ultrapoor: A Field Experiment in Postwar Uganda," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 35-64, April.
    6. repec:wsi:ccexxx:v:03:y:2012:i:02:n:s2010007812500078 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. B Kelsey Jack, "undated". "Market Inefficiencies and the Adoption of Agricultural Technologies in Developing Countries," CID Working Papers 50, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    8. repec:spr:ssefpa:v:9:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s12571-017-0731-x is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Jacopo, Bonan & Stefano, Pareglio & Valentina, Rotondi, 2015. "Extension Services, Production and Welfare: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Ethiopia," Working Papers 312, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 30 Oct 2015.
    10. Ariel BenYishay & A. Mushfiq Mobarak, 2013. "Communicating with Farmers through Social Networks," Working Papers 1030, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    11. Christopher Blattman & Julian Jamison & Margaret Sheridan, 2016. "Reducing crime and violence: Experimental evidence from cognitive behavioral therapy in Liberia [Appendix]," Artefactual Field Experiments 00545, The Field Experiments Website.
    12. Ariel BenYishay & A. Mushfiq Mobarak, 2014. "Social Learning and Communication," NBER Working Papers 20139, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    agriculture; technology adoption; Africa; Research Methods/ Statistical Methods; O33; Q18; O13;

    JEL classification:

    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products


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