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Understanding the Persistent Low Performance of African Agriculture

Author

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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Sylvain Dessy & Jacques Ewoudou & Isabelle Ouellet, 2006. "Understanding the Persistent Low Performance of African Agriculture," Cahiers de recherche 0622, CIRPEE.
  • Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0622
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. 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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    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets

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