The Ambiguous Effects of Policy Reforms on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification in Africa: Renewed Threats to Fragile Margins?

30 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 1999

See all articles by Thomas Reardon

Thomas Reardon

Michigan State University - Department of Agricultural Economics

Christopher B. Barrett

Cornell University - Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management

Date Written: September 1999

Abstract

To satisfy continued growth in food demand without further degrading already low fertility soils or extensifying onto fragile margins, African farmers must pursue "sustainable agricultural intensification" (SAI). SAI requires adequate use of capital to maintain soil fertility and conserve the land while meeting productivity goals. Nevertheless, many African farmers are either unsustainably intensifying (i.e., mining their soils and degrading the resource base) or extensifying onto fragile margins because they cannot meet needs on existing cropland. These deviations from the SAI path are often due to inappropriate policies that reduce farmers' incentives and capacity to pursue SAI, in particular to economic liberalization measures that removed public support for farming, thus increasing input prices and market risk, without concomitant public investments in institutional or physical infrastructure to induce profitable sustainable intensification by smallholders.

JEL Classification: O1, Q1

Suggested Citation

Reardon, Thomas A. and Barrett, Christopher B., The Ambiguous Effects of Policy Reforms on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification in Africa: Renewed Threats to Fragile Margins? (September 1999). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=185370 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.185370

Thomas A. Reardon

Michigan State University - Department of Agricultural Economics ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States
517-355-1521 (Phone)
517-432-1800 (Fax)

Christopher B. Barrett (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management ( email )

315 Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-7801
United States
607-255-4489 (Phone)
607-255-9984 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://aem.cornell.edu/faculty_sites/cbb2/

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