Across Africa, rural welfare and economic growth depend on agricultural productivity - and two new papers by a Kenyan researcher at The University of Western Australia outline ways for 33 African countries to improve their agricultural sectors.
Assistant Professor Amin Mugera, of UWA's School of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Institute of Agriculture, has recently published his work in the Journal of International Development and Contemporary Economic Policy.
For both papers, Assistant Professor Mugera - with colleagues from California State University in the US and Konkuk University in Korea - analysed data from 33 African countries using new economical approaches and models.
Assistant Professor Mugera and his co-authors looked at whether African agriculture was lagging behind in technical efficiency by examining statistics from 1966 to 2001.
The other paper examined whether or not poverty-reducing, low-interest loans from organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank had an impact on productivity by examining statistics from 1981 to 2001. They took into account the effects of globalisation, civil violence, levels of development of physical and financial infrastructure and natural resource factors that influence agricultural productivity.
The authors found that efficiency differed across regions and countries within Africa with evidence of "catching up" to the latest technology only within the East African countries. "Our analyses point to the need for policies that improve technological uptake in African agriculture," they write.
They also found that macroeconomic policy reforms instituted by groups such as the IMF and World Bank improved agricultural productivity in the 33 countries they sampled. "This is important because many countries rejected the IMF and World Bank requirements in the initial stages," they write.
"It was not until the IMF and World Bank turned the requirements for policy reforms into conditionality for receiving financial aid that countries slowly started to adjust to the new macro economic environment."
Assistant Professor Amin Mugera (UWA School of Agricultural and Resource Economics and UWA Institute of Agriculture) (+61 8) 6488 3427
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716