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Interpreting changes in African agriculture

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 11:33 AM
Contributors: Steve Wiggins

Assessments of the performance of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa are typically based on official production statistics at national level. Between the early 1970s and the mid-1990s these often show alarmingly poor rates of growth. But there are good reasons to doubt the statistics and their interpretation. An alternative is to examine the record from the village level upward. This paper looks at the evidence from 26 case studies of change between the mid-1970s and the mid-1980s at the district or village level. These suggest less cause for alarm than the national statistics. They confirm that access to markets is essential for agricultural development the single biggest idea in the policy reforms of the 1980s, but they also underline the importance of the detail of policy in remedying failures in product, capital and insurance markets and in public investment in technology.

Author(s): Steve Wiggins

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