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Agricultural intensification : the status in six African countries

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  • Binswanger-Mkhize, Hans P.
  • Savastano, Sara

Abstract

The Boserup-Ruthenberg framework has long been used to explain and understand the determinants of agricultural growth, the nature of the intensification of farming systems, investment, and technology adoption. The literature has produced an extensive body of evidence that summarizes or tests the hypothesis in Africa and often found it confirmed. However, in the past two decades, rapid population growth has put African farming systems under stress. At the same time, there has been a sharp increase in urbanization and economic growth that is providing new market opportunities for farmers. It is therefore necessary to investigate whether this has resulted in rapid intensification of farming systems, permitting rapid agricultural growth and maintenance or increase in the incomes of the farming population. This paper describes the status of intensification in six African countries using the first round of data from the Living Standards Measurement Study-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture. In addition, the paper (i) develops internationally comparable measures of overall agro-ecological crop potential and urban gravity in the farmers'location and (ii) estimates the causal impact of agro-ecological potential and urban gravity on population density, infrastructure, and market access and on a range of agricultural intensification variables. The paper shows that the new measures have relevant explanatory power. The descriptive analysis shows that the patterns of intensification observed across countries suggest several inconsistencies with Boserup-Ruthenberg. The paper also finds that urban gravity, except for its impact on crop intensities, has little impact on other intensification indicators.

Suggested Citation

  • Binswanger-Mkhize, Hans P. & Savastano, Sara, 2014. "Agricultural intensification : the status in six African countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7116, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:7116
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    References listed on IDEAS

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