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Resource degradation, low agricultural productivity, and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa: pathways out of the spiral

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  • Simeon Ehui
  • John Pender

Abstract

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has the lowest agricultural productivity in the world, while almost half of the population lives below US$1 per day. The biggest development policy challenge is to find appropriate solutions to end hunger and poverty in the region. Building on several years of empirical research conducted in East Africa, this paper identifies potential strategies for sustainable development in this region. In general, the empirical evidence reviewed confirms that different strategies are needed in different development domains of SSA. Nevertheless, some elements will be common to all successful strategies, including assurance of peace and security, a stable macroeconomic environment, provision of incentives through markets where markets function, development of market institutions where they do not, and public and private investment in an appropriate mix of physical, human, natural, and social capital. The differences in strategies across these domains mainly reflect differences in the mix of those investments as influenced by different comparative advantages. Copyright 2005 International Association of Agricultural Economics.

Suggested Citation

  • Simeon Ehui & John Pender, 2005. "Resource degradation, low agricultural productivity, and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa: pathways out of the spiral," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 32(s1), pages 225-242, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:agecon:v:32:y:2005:i:s1:p:225-242
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. World Bank, 2000. "Can Africa Claim the 21st Century?," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 22962.
    2. Alston, Julian M. & Pardey, Philip G. & Taylor, Michael J. (ed.), 2001. "Agricultural science policy: Changing global agendas," IFPRI books, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), number 0-8018-6604-9, September.
    3. R.I. Voortman & B G I S Sonneveld & M A Keyzer, 2000. "African Land Ecology: Opportunities and Constraints for Agricultural Development," CID Working Papers 37A, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    4. Pender, John L., ed. & Hazell, P. B. R., ed., 2000. "Promoting sustainable development in less-favored areas:," 2020 vision focus 4, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    5. R. L. Voortman & B. G. J. S. Sonneveld & M. A. Keyzer, 2000. "African Land Ecology: Opportunities and Constraints for Agricultural Development," CID Working Papers 37, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    6. Jagger, Pamela & Pender, John L. & Gebremedhin, Berhanu, 2003. "Woodlot devolution in Northern Ethiopia: opportunities for empowerment, smallholder income diversification and sustainable land management," EPTD discussion papers 107, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    Cited by:

    1. Chamberlin, Jordan & Pender, John & Yu, Bingxin, 2006. "Development domains for Ethiopia: capturing the geographical context of smallholder development options," EPTD discussion papers 159, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Guy Nkamleu, 2004. "Productivity Growth, Technical Progress and Efficiency Change in African Agriculture," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 16(1), pages 203-222.
    3. Holden, Stein & Shiferaw, Bekele & Pender, John, 2004. "Non-farm income, household welfare, and sustainable land management in a less-favoured area in the Ethiopian highlands," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 369-392, August.
    4. Kassie, Menale & Holden, Stein & Köhlin, Gunnar & Bluffstone, Randy, 2008. "Economics of Soil Conservation Adoption in High-Rainfall Areas of the Ethiopian Highlands," Discussion Papers dp-08-09-efd, Resources For the Future.
    5. Waithaka, M.M. & Thornton, P.K. & Herrero, M. & Shepherd, K.D., 2006. "Bio-economic evaluation of farmers' perceptions of viable farms in western Kenya," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-3), pages 243-271, October.
    6. Dzanku, Fred M. & Jirström, Magnus & Marstorp, Håkan, 2015. "Yield Gap-Based Poverty Gaps in Rural Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 336-362.
    7. Hanjra, Munir A. & Ferede, Tadele & Gutta, Debel Gemechu, 2009. "Pathways to breaking the poverty trap in Ethiopia: Investments in agricultural water, education, and markets," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 1596-1604, November.
    8. Reynolds, Travis W., 2012. "Institutional Determinants of Success Among Forestry-Based Carbon Sequestration Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 542-554.
    9. Vandercasteelen, Joachim & Dereje, Mekdim & Minten, Bart & Taffesse, Alemayehu Seyoum, 2016. "Row planting teff in Ethiopia: Impact on farm-level profitability and labor allocation," ESSP working papers 92, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    10. Reynolds, Travis W. & Farley, Joshua & Huber, Candice, 2010. "Investing in human and natural capital: An alternative paradigm for sustainable development in Awassa, Ethiopia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 2140-2150, September.

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