The Economics of Agricultural Technology in Semiarid Sub-Saharan Africa (The Johns Hopkins Studies in Development)

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9780801851391: The Economics of Agricultural Technology in Semiarid Sub-Saharan Africa (The Johns Hopkins Studies in Development)
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Most researchers on agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa have become pessimistic about future potential after observing the decline of food output per capita over the past two decades. Although the authors of this study identify factors that have resulted in this stagnation, they also document technological successes and then develop a strategy for increasing the effectiveness of future research and development. This strategy is evaluated using field studies and modeling from the major agroecological zones of crop production. The authors address the higher-input, yield-increasing strategy from the perspective of risk, sustainability, and the impact on women. They also consider alternative approaches to increasing output through area expansion and livestock-crop integrated systems.

The strategy emphasizes the combined effects of water availability, soil fertility, and new cultivars. It requires public support for adaptive research, higher input purchases by farmers, and increased foreign-exchange expenditures. However, there have already been successes with this strategy, and a more rapid adoption is expected to accelerate the growth of agricultural output and to increase the efficiency of agricultural research. The authors maintain that it is now appropriate to be more optimistic about the potential of Africa to feed itself and to maintain its resource base.

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About the Author:

John H. Sanders is professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University. Barry I. Shapiro is agricultural economist for the International Livestock Research Institute in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Sunder Ramaswamy teaches in the Department of Economics at Middlebury College.

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"The authors' command of theory and empirical evidence is original and substantial and their scholarship is excellent. They do an outstanding job of being open to alternative points of view while using a rigorous neoclassical approach. They have produced a volume that is well-suited for use in courses on international agricultural development and on African economic or agricultural development." -- E. Wayne Nafziger, Kansas State University

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