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Understanding the Persistent Low Performance of African Agriculture

  • Sylvain Dessy
  • Jacques Ewoudou
  • Isabelle Ouellet

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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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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  1. Timothy G. Conley & Christopher R. Udry, 2000. "Learning About a New Technology: Pineapple in Ghana," Working Papers 817, Economic Growth Center, Yale University, revised May 2004.
  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. Conning, Jonathan & Udry, Christopher, 2007. "Rural Financial Markets in Developing Countries," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, Elsevier.
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  5. 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.
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  7. 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..
  8. 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.
  9. Echenique, Federico & Edlin, Aaron S., 2004. "Mixed equilibria are unstable in games of strategic complements," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt1ht651hk, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  10. Resnick, Danielle, 2004. "Smallholder African agriculture," DSGD discussion papers 9, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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  12. repec:pri:rpdevs:besley_case_diffusion.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
  13. 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.
  14. repec:pri:rpdevs:besley_case_diffusion is not listed on IDEAS
  15. 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.
  16. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "Rationalizability, Learning, and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1255-77, November.
  17. Russell Cooper & Andrew John, 1988. "Coordinating Coordination Failures in Keynesian Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(3), pages 441-463.
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