Greater investment in smallholder agriculture could offer a route out of the deepening poverty facing many African nations, a study by Imperial College London economists has concluded.
Reporting today in the journal Oxford Development Studies they outline five key policy themes that must be embraced by the international community if sub-Saharan Africa is to have any chance of meeting two of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals - halving both the number of people living on less than $1 a day and the number suffering from hunger.
With the World Bank already forecasting that these two objectives will not be met by the target year of 2015, the study argues economic recovery must focus on expansion and intensification of smallholder agriculture backed up by manufacturing exports.
Economist and Research Fellow, Colin Poulton of the Department of Agricultural Sciences added:
"Many poverty reduction strategy papers recognise the importance of smallholder agriculture to the national economy, but there are few credible sector development or investment strategies to turn this into progress on the ground.
"A credible sector development strategy also requires that government agencies learn to work in partnership with NGOs, businesses and farmer organisations. In order for that to happen, mechanisms must be devised by which government agencies can be held accountable by these other stakeholders for their performance. Governance is a key theme in African development discourses at the moment and more attention needs to be paid to governance issues within the agricultural sector."
Judith H Moore | alfa
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