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The Decline and Rise of Agricultural Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa Since 1961

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  • Steven Block

Abstract

Agricultural productivity growth in sub-Saharan Africa has been a qualified success. Total factor productivity growth has increased rapidly since the early 1980s. By the early 2000s, average annual TFP growth was roughly four times faster than it had been 25 years earlier. This period of accelerated growth, however, followed nearly 20 years of declining rates of TFP growth subsequent to independence in the early 1960s. Average agricultural TFP growth for sub-Saharan Africa was 0.14% per year during 1960 - 84, and increased to 1.24% per year from 1985 - 2002. The average over this period was approximately 0.6% per year, which accounts for 36% of the increase in total crop output over this period. These highly aggregated results conceal substantial regional and country-level variation. Expenditures on agricultural R&D, along with the reform of macroeconomic and sectoral policies shaping agricultural incentives, have played a substantial role in explaining both the decline and the rise in agricultural productivity. The case study of Ghana clearly reflects these broader findings.

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  • Steven Block, 2010. "The Decline and Rise of Agricultural Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa Since 1961," NBER Working Papers 16481, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16481
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    Cited by:

    1. Wouter Zant, 2015. "Why Subsidize Fertilizer if Subsidizing Water is More Effective?," Working Papers 2015/09, Maastricht School of Management.
    2. Markus Eberhardt & Francis Teal, 2013. "No Mangoes in the Tundra: Spatial Heterogeneity in Agricultural Productivity Analysis," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 75(6), pages 914-939, December.
    3. Wouter Zant, 2014. "Do Organic Inputs in African Subsistence Agriculture Raise Productivity? Evidence from Plot Data of Malawi Household Surveys," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 14-114/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    4. Fuglie, Keith O. & Rada, Nicholas E., 2013. "Resources, Policies, and Agricultural Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa," Economic Research Report 145368, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    5. Chimhowu, Admos, 2013. "Aid for Agriculture and Rural Development: a Changing Landscape with New Players and Challenges," WIDER Working Paper Series 014, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    6. Jeremy Foltz & Ursula Aldana & Paul Laris, 2014. "The Sahel's Silent Maize Revolution: Analyzing Maize Productivity in Mali at the Farm Level," NBER Chapters,in: African Successes, Volume IV: Sustainable Growth, pages 111-136 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Nin-Pratt, Alejandro & Johnson, Michael E. & Yu, Bingxin, 2012. "Improved performance of agriculture in Africa South of the Sahara: Taking off or bouncing back?," IFPRI discussion papers 1224, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Liebenberg, Frikkie & Pardey, Philip G., 2012. "A long-run view of South African agricultural production and productivity," African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, African Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 7(1), October.
    9. Njagi, Njeru Timothy, 2012. "An Investigation into the Possibility of a Rice Green Revolution in Sub Saharan Africa: Lessons from the MWEA Irrigation Scheme in Kenya," Dissertations-Doctoral 207754, AgEcon Search.
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    11. Gelb, Alan & Meyer, Christian J. & Ramachandran, Vijaya, 2014. "Development as diffusion: Manufacturing productivity and sub-Saharan Africa.s missing middle," WIDER Working Paper Series 042, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    12. Owoo, Nkechi S. & Naudé, Wim, 2014. "Non-Farm Enterprise Productivity and Spatial Autocorrelation in Rural Africa: Evidence from Ethiopia and Nigeria," IZA Discussion Papers 8295, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Alan Gelb, Christian Meyer, and Vijaya Ramachandran, 2014. "Development as Diffusion: Manufacturing Productivity and Sub-Saharan Africa’s Missing Middle - Working Paper 357," Working Papers 357, Center for Global Development.
    14. Nagler, Paula & Naudé, Wim, 2014. "Labor Productivity in Rural African Enterprises: Empirical Evidence from the LSMS-ISA," IZA Discussion Papers 8524, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Hugh Wenban-Smith & Anja Faße & Ulrike Grote, 2016. "Food security in Tanzania: the challenge of rapid urbanisation," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 8(5), pages 973-984, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • Q16 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services

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