Understanding the Persistent Low Performance of African Agriculture
CIRPEE Working Paper No. 06-22
27 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2006
Date Written: May 2006
We explain the persistence of low performances in African agriculture by analyzing the determinants of farmers' decisions to modernize their farming practices. Owing to sociocultural factors specific to Sub-Saharan Africa, farmers' decisions on farming practices are strategic complements. We demonstrate that the modernization game these farmers play admits two pure-strategy, Pareto-ranked, symmetric Nash-equilibria. The equilibrium where all farmers choose to modernize their farming methods is preferred to the one where all of them choose to stick to a traditional method. We argue that scarcity and economic opportunities put forward by neo-Boserupian theories of induced-innovation as determinants of the onset of agricultural innovations are, in the context of African countries, only necessary, but not sufficient to generate modernization of farming methods. Deliberate action to enhance adoption of agricultural innovations must therefore take the African's sociocultural context into consideration, or risk failure.
Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa, Agricultural modernization, Fertilizer adoption, Supermodular games
JEL Classification: O14, C72, O13, Q12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation