Productivity Potentials and Poverty in Relation to Sub-Saharan Agriculture

Researcher: Mats Hårsmar
The program was initiated and started in 2009.

Poverty remains a predominantly rural phenomenon in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The economic sector that has the potential to most profoundly influence rural poverty is agriculture. Farming in this region is rarely undertaken in isolation, and development in rural areas depends on the interaction of various economic activities. Nevertheless, increased productivity in food crop agriculture seems inevitable for further reductions in rural poverty to be made.

This research programme aims at the study of conditions for increased labour, land and input productivity in small scale agriculture as it is undertaken in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It puts a special emphasis on socio-economic processes of technological change and innovation. Geographically, it will focus on situations in West Africa, however not exclusively.

The larger framework in which this focus on agricultural productivity is embedded consists of the understanding of processes of poverty; impoverishment as well as often simultaneous movements out of poverty. Hence, it becomes an integral part of the programme to study and describe as well broader processes and factors that are influencing agricultural productivity. Among these are risk and vulnerability connected to livelihoods of small scale agricultural producers, and to the farming process itself. One hypothesis is that such a wide approach is necessary in order to understand processes of technological change. Rather than being undertaken as isolated events or investments, these changes may be linked to and dependent on broader livelihood aspects. If proven correct, such interaction would have important implications for policy.

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