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Economic Importance of Agriculture for Poverty Reduction


  • Dalila Cervantes-Godoy


  • Joe Dewbre



The Millennium Declaration set 2015 as the target date for halving the number of people living in extreme poverty. Exceptional progress in some developing countries makes achieving that goal globally a realistic possibility. However, many countries will fall far short, and up to 1 billion people are likely to remain destitute by the target date. Why are some countries doing better than others? This paper seeks to answer this question by looking for shared characteristics of twenty-five developing countries posting extraordinary success in reducing extreme poverty over the past twenty to twenty-five years. These countries were compared using indicators of their macro-economic characteristics and, especially, their agricultural economic characteristics. The countries chosen for analysis constitute a highly diverse mix. The group includes some of the poorest and some of the richest developing countries in the world, representing virtually all geographic regions. The countries also differ greatly in their systems of governance and economic management. Yet, they are surprisingly similar in their achievements, not only in reducing poverty, but across the broad range of macroeconomic and agricultural economic performance measures used to compare them. Findings from time-series, cross-section regression analysis reveal that while economic growth generally was an important contributor to poverty reduction, the sector mix of growth mattered substantially, with growth in agricultural incomes being especially important.

Suggested Citation

  • Dalila Cervantes-Godoy & Joe Dewbre, 2010. "Economic Importance of Agriculture for Poverty Reduction," OECD Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Papers 23, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:agraaa:23-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5kmmv9s20944-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Mackenzie, Lesego & Mburu, John & Irungu, Patrick, 2017. "Analysis Of Household Choice And Determinants Of Livelihood Diversification Activities In Chobe District, Botswana," Dissertations and Theses 269268, University of Nairobi, Department of Agricultural Economics.
    2. Ligon, Ethan & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 2018. "Estimating the Relative Benefits of Agricultural Growth on the Distribution of Expenditures," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 417-428.
    3. Jagbojo, O.O. & Sanusi, R.A. & Phillip, B.B. & Banmeke, T.O.A., 2017. "Poverty status differentials of non-governmental organisations activities' beneficiary and non-beneficiary farm households in Ogun State, Nigeria," Nigerian Journal of Agricultural Economics, Nigerian Journal of Agricultural Economics, vol. 7(1), October.
    4. Serafin Corral & Alayde Serruto Díaz & Maria Del Cristo Monagas & Eduardo Cuenca García, 2017. "Agricultural Policies and Their Impact on Poverty Reduction in Developing Countries: Lessons Learned from Three Water Basins in Cape Verde," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(10), pages 1-18, October.
    5. repec:agr:journl:v:2(602):y:2015:i:2(602):p:123-138 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Abro, Zewdu Ayalew & Alemu, Bamlaku Alamirew & Hanjra, Munir A., 2014. "Policies for Agricultural Productivity Growth and Poverty Reduction in Rural Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 461-474.
    7. Soriano, Bárbara & Garrido, Alberto, 2015. "The role of private sector in development: The relation between public-private investment in infrastructure and agricultural exports in developing countries," Economia Agraria y Recursos Naturales, Spanish Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 15(02).
    8. Urquía-Grande, Elena & Rubio-Alcocer, Antonio, 2015. "Agricultural infrastructure donation performance: Empirical evidence in rural Ethiopia," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 245-254.
    9. Kheiri, Shaghayegh, 2015. "Identifying the Barriers of Sustainable Agriculture Adoption by Wheat Farmers in Takestan, Iran," International Journal of Agricultural Management and Development (IJAMAD), Iranian Association of Agricultural Economics, vol. 5(3), September.
    10. Akinsola, Grace Oluwabukunmi & Adewumi, Olaniyi Matthew & Ayinde, Opeyemi Eyitayo, 2016. "A Disaggregated Measures Approach Of Poverty Status Of Farming Households In Kwara State, Nigeria," Journal of Agribusiness and Rural Development, University of Life Sciences, Poznan, Poland, vol. 2016(42).
    11. SIngh Verma, Juhee & Sharma, Pritee, 2019. "Potential of Organic Farming to Mitigate Climate Change and Increase Small Farmers’ Welfare," MPRA Paper 99994, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Tegebu, Fredu Nega & Hussein, Edris Seid, 2015. "Effects of regional trade agreements on trade in strategic," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212634, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    13. Mirela Ionela ACELEANU & Anca Gabriela MOLĂNESCU & Liliana CRĂCIUN & Cristina VOICU, 2015. "The status of Romanian agriculture and some measures to take," Theoretical and Applied Economics, Asociatia Generala a Economistilor din Romania - AGER, vol. 0(2(603), S), pages 123-138, Summer.
    14. Unal, Umut, 2018. "Sahra Altı Afrika Ülkelerinde Yoksulluğun Doğası ve Sebepleri Üzerine
      [On the Nature and Causes of Poverty in Sub-Saharan African Countries]
      ," MPRA Paper 97730, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Daniel Francois Meyer, 2019. "An Assessment Of The Importance Of The Agricultural Sector On Economic Growth And Development In South Africa," Proceedings of International Academic Conferences 9912288, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.
    16. Xiao Yu Wang, 2014. "Risk Sorting, Portfolio Choice, and Endogenous Informal Insurance," NBER Working Papers 20429, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Kiprotich Sigei, Geoffrey, 2014. "Determinants of Market Participation Among Small-Scale Pineapple Farmers in Kericho County, Kenya," Research Theses 243452, Collaborative Masters Program in Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    18. Malakshahi, Amir- Ashkan & Darzi- Naftchali, Abdullah & Mohseni, Behrooz, 2020. "Analyzing water table depth fluctuation response to evapotranspiration involving DRAINMOD model," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 234(C).
    19. Bezat-Jarzębowska, Agnieszka & Rembisz, Włodzimierz & Sielska, Agata, 2012. "Growth model of agri-food production," Multiannual Program Reports 164837, Institute of Agricultural and Food Economics - National Research Institute (IAFE-NRI).
    20. Darwati Susilastuti, 2018. "Agricultural Production and its Implications on Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction," European Research Studies Journal, European Research Studies Journal, vol. 0(1), pages 309-320.
    21. Golmohammadi, Amirmohsen & Hassini, Elkafi, 2019. "Capacity, pricing and production under supply and demand uncertainties with an application in agriculture," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 275(3), pages 1037-1049.
    22. Tomkins Alan J., 2012. "Combating Food Shortages in Least Developed Countries: Current Development Assistance Approaches," The Law and Development Review, De Gruyter, vol. 5(2), pages 27-55, December.

    More about this item


    agricultural development; Millennium development goals; poverty reduction;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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