Agricultural Intensification: The Status in Six African Countries

34 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Hans P Binswanger-Mkhize

Hans P Binswanger-Mkhize

University of PRETORIA

Sara Savastano

University of Rome Tor Vergata - Faculty of Economics; International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); World Bank

Date Written: November 1, 2014


The Boserup-Ruthenberg framework has long been used to explain and understand the determinants of agricultural growth, the nature of the intensification of farming systems, investment, and technology adoption. The literature has produced an extensive body of evidence that summarizes or tests the hypothesis in Africa and often found it confirmed. However, in the past two decades, rapid population growth has put African farming systems under stress. At the same time, there has been a sharp increase in urbanization and economic growth that is providing new market opportunities for farmers. It is therefore necessary to investigate whether this has resulted in rapid intensification of farming systems, permitting rapid agricultural growth and maintenance or increase in the incomes of the farming population. This paper describes the status of intensification in six African countries using the first round of data from the Living Standards Measurement Study-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture. In addition, the paper (i) develops internationally comparable measures of overall agro-ecological crop potential and urban gravity inthe farmers' location and (ii) estimates the causal impact of agro-ecological potential and urban gravity on population density, infrastructure, and market access and on a range of agricultural intensification variables. The paper shows that the new measures have relevant explanatory power. The descriptive analysis shows that the patterns of intensification observed across countries suggest several inconsistencies with Boserup-Ruthenberg. The paper also finds that urban gravity, except for its impact on crop intensities, has little impact on other intensification indicators.

Keywords: Agricultural Economics

Suggested Citation

Binswanger, Hans P and Savastano, Sara and Savastano, Sara, Agricultural Intensification: The Status in Six African Countries (November 1, 2014). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7116, Available at SSRN:

Hans P Binswanger (Contact Author)

University of PRETORIA ( email )

Pretoria 0002
South Africa

Sara Savastano

University of Rome Tor Vergata - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Via di Tor Vergata
Rome, Lazio 00133
+390672595639 (Phone)

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) ( email )

Via Paolo di Dono
Rome, 00142

World Bank

1818 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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