Not for quotation
Agriculture Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa1
Bingxin Yu, Lilyan E. Fulginiti, and Richard K. Perrin2
1 Paper Selected for Presentation at the Annual Meetings of the American Agricultural
Economics Association Long Beach, California, July 2002.
2 Graduate Student, and Professors, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska.
Agriculture Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa
Bingxin Yu, Lilyan E. Fulginiti, and Richard K. Perrin
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the poorest region in the world, is said to be the most
important development challenge of the 21st century. It consists of 53 countries with 612
million people, about 10% of the world’s total, and covers about 24.2 million square kilometer,
18% of the world’s total (FAOSTAT). Gross National Product (GNP) per capita in the region
in 1999 was only $510, compared to $1,240 in all developing countries or $2,060 in the Middle
East and North Africa (World Bank).
Currently, the majority of population still lives in rural areas and depends on agriculture
for their livelihood. In SSA countries agriculture contributes about 35% of the regional GNP
and employs more than two-thirds of the total labor force. In most of these countries,
agriculture is the largest contributor to foreign exchange, averaging about 40% in the region.
Thus, agricultural productivity plays a strategic role in these economies both as a potential
source of long-term development and as the essential contributor to sustained food security.
While agricultural productivity gains in the industrialized countries have averaged 2%
per year or more in recent decades, and frequently more than that in such developing countries
as China and India, most studies of SSA agriculture have indicated agricultural productivity
losses during the 1970's and 1980's. On