The Role of Agriculture in African Development
Widespread rural poverty in Africa and the success of Asia’s Green Revolution suggest that agriculture is a key sector for African development. However, in response to recent skepticism, this paper examines whether the conventional wisdom about agriculture’s contribution to the development process can still be applied to Africa today.
We first outline the debate between the proponents of agriculture and its skeptics before presenting a series of case studies reflecting the heterogeneity of initial conditions facing low-income African countries. Drawing on economy-wide modeling, these case studies contrast the effectiveness of alternative growth strategies in reducing poverty. The findings indicate that while Africa does face many new challenges unlike those faced by Asian countries, there is little evidence to suggest that these countries can bypass a broad-based agricultural revolution to successfully launch their economic transformations.